Mars InSight Landing

26 Nov 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU
Martin Wood Lecture Theatre
General public (Age 14+)

Fully booked - please join the waiting list

You are invited to join researchers from Oxford Physics, Imperial College, Bristol University, RAL Space and the UK Space Agency, who have worked on the Mars Insight mission, to celebrate its scheduled landing on Mars.

Evening schedule

6.30pm: Welcome and lecture
7.30pm: Live broadcasts from NASA Television for the landing and drinks reception
8.30pm: Finish

The evening will start with an introduction from Sue Horne, Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency. Dr Neil Bowles will then discuss some of the science driving the InSight mission, why are we interested in exploring Mars and what will hopefully happen as the InSight spacecraft hits the top of the Martian atmosphere about 45 minutes after the lecture starts.

This is an exciting opportunity to share in the excitement of the landing with the research team!


The event is fully booked. Please complete this short webform to be added to the waiting list for this event:

The mission

InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior. InSight is a terrestrial planet explorer that will open a window into the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than 4.5 billion years ago. By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, it will address fundamental questions about the formation of Earth-like planets by detecting the fingerprints of those processes buried deep within the interior of Mars.

Touch down: InSight is set to touch down on Mars at around 8pm on Nov. 26, 2018. The lander will plunge through the thin Martian atmosphere, heatshield first, and use a parachute to slow down. Then, it will fire its retro rockets to slowly descend to the surface of Mars, and land on the smooth plains of Elysium Planitia.

Mars quakes: Scientists from Oxford’s Department of Physics worked in collaboration with the UK Space Agency and Imperial College London to support one of the key instruments onboard: the short period Seismometer (SEIS-SP). This will be placed on the surface of Mars to detect seismic waves from Marsquakes and meteorite impacts.



Lecture details

The UK team, led by Prof. Tom Pike at Imperial College and working with colleagues in France, the US and Germany has developed a very sensitive sensor -a seismometer, to listen for Marsquakes. This delicate scientific instrument had to be capable of surviving launch on a rocket, cruise through interplanetary space and now landing on Mars. For the team at Oxford Physics this has proved to be one of the most challenging missions in over 40 years of sending things into space.

Dr Neil Bowles will discuss how with our partners at Imperial College, STFC RAL Space and the UKSA, getting the equipment assembled, qualified and to the launch pad was a significant effort and now we are in the anxious time waiting for the landing. After nearly a decade of preparation, building and testing we are excited (and hopeful!) that the science can then start.


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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