Talk:NASA's InSight Lander makes it to Mars

Active discussions


@Robertinventor: Heads-up that I started this article so that we don't get duplicates. Collaboration welcome, as usual. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:42, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

@Darkfrog24: Just a thought, you could do a "Watch the landing" page with the background, linking to this [1] and then update it with the result when it does land. Astronomy magazines are already doing this. If it can be moved quickly to publication it could be there before the landing then you update it after a hopefully successful landing. The chances are good because it is using the same system as Curiosity and they get a lot of feedback and good telemetry after a successful landing - it's like a final test all the way through in the actual Mars conditions and based on that the next landing is likely to work fine too. E.g. Opportunity / Spirit or the two Viking landers. But no guarantees of course, the spacecraft itself is new but the delivery system is already tested.
I don't know if you should mention this. But for astrobiologists, one particularly interesting thing about this lander is that it is the first one to use a robotic mole. It will drill to a depth of 5 meters. This is of interest for astrobiology, especially for the search for past life. ExoMars will be able to drill to 2 meters using a different technique and nothing else has been able to drill to any depth at all. Viking scraped a shallow trench and most just drill mms into rocks. For Insight though it's not an astrobiology mission, it's drilling in order to get a heat profile depending on depth.
There are some fun astronomy articles you can use as sources. E.g.
Hope this helps, interested to see what you do with it :). Robertinventor (talk) 17:44, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
I'll give it a look. I think the readers are most likely to be interested in what the mission is and what new equipment is being used, like this drill.
As for the live update feed, I think it's a good idea but on a technical level, I don't know how to do it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:09, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
Yes agreed on the astrobiology link. If I was writing a science blog post I'd bring up that astrobiology connection but I think it is a bit too much of a digression here - I'd do it because it is a special interest theme of my blog.
This link is also of interest - about how it has exceedingly sensitive seismometers, so senstivie they couldn't find anywhere on Earth quiet enough to test them, when the tested them deep in a mine in the Black forest in Germany the strongest signal was from the sea, hundreds of miles away - which would be far stronger than any feeble Mars quakes. They could only really test them once they were in flight on the way to Mars. InSight Diary: The silence of space
You could embed it if there is a feature here to embed YouTube video - there are plugins for wikis to enable that but they are normally disabled in Wikimedia projects. So you just have to do it as a link. I tried including a link to the NASA live feed here, but it is blocked by the Wikinews spam filter, no real surprise htere.
I recommend you link to this page: [2] which has an embedded live YouTube fed, and tell the reader the time to watch it, coverage begins at 2 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. UTC). Landing starts about 40 minutes later and it is about an hour later, 3.01 p.m. EST that you get confirmation that it landed successfully, just a beep. First image from the surface several minutes later at 3.04 pm EST, but it could be delayed to the next day. See the timeline here [3]
There are various other ways to link to view it listed here, which you could supply as an extra link: Watch Online
NASA TV are doing an extensive program about the Insight lander today, so if you want to watch a video and hear the experts talk about it, just go to the live feed, it seems to be an all day event so there are hours of streaming video about it. But may be interesting to dip in and listen to some of it. Robertinventor (talk) 19:18, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
I've written up these comments as a page on my astrobiology blog to share with friends about the landing. May be useful for purposes of writing the article, just as a starting point because the links are useful[4]. I'm not sure I should get too involved in drafting out the article itself as I'm liable to get very detailed but once the main points are here, I can help get it in shape, with another eye on it :). Robertinventor (talk) 19:38, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

@Darkfrog24: Did some minor edits, added a NASA page about Insight as a source, expanded one of your paras slightly, fixed some minor things, and added a link to the live view page. Hopefully helps a bit. I think you'd be better figuring out what else to mention of the bullet points above as they are all of scientific interest but some may intrigue the reader more than others and it would be long and hard to check to include everything. Robertinventor (talk) 21:08, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

Neato. I moved it to an external link. By necessity, the article won't be on the front page until after the lander has landed, so "watch this live" won't be an issue any more. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:45, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
Oh okay would have to change it to say what it is then when this story is finished - they might archive it. Robertinventor (talk) 07:59, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
Good overview cite from the BBC [5] can use that to support most of the main points one would want to make in the article. Robertinventor (talk) 09:37, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

ext linkEdit

External links should go below Sources section.
•–• 21:56, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

Added images, is it ready to review?Edit

I think this is the sort of story where it is better to publish soon after the landing if one can - I've added a few images and fixed some minor things, as far as I'm concerned it is ready to send to review. Everything looks fine to me, my only suggestions would be to add more things. You can see from my story in the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology some of the other things I'd briefly mention but it would make the story three or four times longer, if you want to use any of this material it's released under CC by SA: Watch InSight's successful landing on Mars . Robertinventor (talk) 00:55, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Those pics look stupendous. Thanks for your expertise. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:37, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Great glad to help :). Robertinventor (talk) 01:48, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Length of sentences (to Robertinventor, Darkfrog24)Edit

The sentence in the first paragraph seems too long:

  • Today just before 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (8:00 p.m. UTC) NASA's Insight Lander sent a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars to tell the Jet Propulsion Laboratory it had successfully touched down in Elysium Planitia, the first step toward its two-year mission of assessing what Mars is like underground.

Possible change:

  • Today just before 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (8:00 p.m. UTC) NASA's Insight Lander successfully touched down in Elysium Planitia on Mars. It sent a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, (Country specified here). The landing was the first step toward the two-year mission of the device, aimed to assess underground composition of Mars.

--Gryllida (talk) 02:48, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Okay I've given it a go as
"Today just before 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (8:00 p.m. UTC) NASA's Insight Lander successfully touched down in Elysium Planitia on Mars. The successful landing was confirmed when it sent a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars to the {{w|Jet Propulsion Laboratory}} in California. This is the first step toward its two-year mission of assessing what Mars is like underground. It will investigate its internal structure, including properties such as heat flow, thermal conductivity and elasticity, and listen to the reverberations of mars quakes and meteorite impacts."
The last sentence is because it is rather more general than the composition indeed it can't analyse the rocks to see what they are made of but can analyse other properties of them to considerable depth indeed right to the center of Mars. Those are just a selection of some of the things it can detect. Robertinventor (talk) 03:52, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
"The successful landing was confirmed when it sent a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California." is passive voice, perhaps reword as
"Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California confirmed the successful landing after receiving a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars from the (name of the device here)."
"To confirm the successful landing, it sent a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California." Gryllida (talk) 09:17, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Okay. Since it didn't specifically send the signal to JPL but rather to Earth as a whole, I changed that to: "To confirm the successful landing, it sent a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars to the {{w|Jet Propulsion Laboratory}} in California via the two {{w|Mars Cube One}} spacecraft and the NASA Deep Space Network." Robertinventor (talk) 11:02, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Paragraph positioning: inverted pyramid (to Robertinventor, Darkfrog24)Edit

The second paragraph,

  • "We've studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry," said acting director of NASA's Planetary Science Division Lori Glaze. "Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system.""

Seems more like background, I'd suggest to move it down. --Gryllida (talk) 02:48, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

The paragraph,

  • "We hit the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 mph [19,800 kph], and the whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only 6½ minutes," said InSight Project Manager John Hoffman. "During that short span of time, InSight had to autonomously perform dozens of operations and do them flawlessly—and by all indications, that is exactly what our spacecraft did."

Seems like not background. I'd suggest to move it up. --Gryllida (talk) 02:48, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Agreed, made this change. BTW we now have the first clear image of Mars from InSight so added that too. Robertinventor (talk) 03:54, 27 November 2018 (UTC)


The lede is currently quite long and has too much detail in it. The lede (see WN:PILLARS#style) should be a short-and-to-the-point sort of paragraph, answering each of the five Ws and an H (well, as many of them as reasonably possible) succinctly — sometimes just two or three words per letter, usually not more than half a dozen. Often, and perhaps in this case, a reviewer can fix an overlength/overdetailed lede without getting too involved and so disqualifying themselves from review, by simply inserting a paragraph break, because the later part is details that can be neatly separated to make a new second paragraph (with, perhaps, a bit of tweaking for smooth flow in a polishing edit after the break). While sometimes the details are more scattered through the text, so the separation isn't within an indepedent reviewer's purview. --Pi zero (talk) 12:28, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

I moved a few things around. I think Robert's summary of the mission is good. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:23, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Looks good. Just added a short bit about the NASA deep space network to the MarsCo artist's impression, seemed a good place to put that part of the lede, it's not important, can be left out but reader might want to know. Robertinventor (talk) 13:32, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: My recommendation (this goes for the brine article too) is not to think in terms of leaving things out, but rather in terms of the order and style of presentation. The point of news isn't to summarize (in fact, summary is highly dis-recommended as a major source of news bias) but to inform objectively. --Pi zero (talk) 14:01, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Then I will establish that by "summary" above I mean "way of saying briefly." Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:57, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
<nods> --Pi zero (talk) 14:59, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I've got lots of extra things we could say in this article, by way of background from previous news stories - many of them also covered during the press conferences and the background explanations of the scientists, which is easiest using cites to previous news stories: Watch InSight's successful landing on Mars. Most is touched on in the latest article here but there are a couple of other highlights we could add:

  • That it's the first continuous weather station on Mars - we have daily weather reports from Curiosity but that's just a few readings a day. InSight will be monitoring pressure, temperature, wind strength and direction twice per second day and night, and also pressure as well (not sure how often for presure) [6]

They said in the press conference that they do this in order to be able to subtract the effects of changing air pressure etc on the ground - just the thin air pushes it down - releases it a vibrations it can detect. But it also could turn up surprises about Mars weather.

  • That they purposefully chose the dullest possible place on Mars as they want typical geology not distracted by local unusual rock types

If I haven't got the idea yet of how to do it in Wikinews I had the idea that I can just link you to my own work on the wiki, as in the link above, where it is all released under CC by SA so you can all use any of the text in that article if you like. Only attribution needed would just to be to say in conversation here you used it.

It may be a possible way ahead until I understand better how you present material here. I am sorry, I don't understand the distinction between summarizing and reporting objectively - if the summary is done from a neutral POV not inserting ones own biases and ideas, seems to me that just is reporting objectively. Might help to elaborate a bit? Robertinventor (talk) 15:13, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Another thing I'd mention about the landing site selection that they covered in the news conference before the landing is that they chose a site with very few rocks. This is partly for a safe landing but it is also for the mole. The mole can nudge aside small rocks up to 2 cm in diameter. If it encounters a bigger one at a slant it will nudge itself down to one side and past it. But if it hits one face on, it will just stop and that's the end of the drilling. They figured out that it is likely to be able to drill to 10 feet (3 meters) in this location if the surface is representative of the subsurface. With some luck it could drill to the maximum depth of 15 feet (five meters). Robertinventor (talk) 15:19, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

There may be some misunderstanding here about the nature of Wikinews review. --Pi zero (talk) 15:34, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
It's all about striking a balance between writing the coolest article possible and actually getting it through review. If we keep adding stuff, the reviewers can't start. If there are too many sources to read, the reviewers won't be able to finish or might decide to spend their limited review time elsewhere. Wikipedia for perfect articles (or at least for continual movement toward an optimal state) and Wikinews for as good as is reasonably practical in the time we have. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:46, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
So Robert has pointed out about five things that this article could mention, but we probably shouldn't do all of them and don't strictly need to do any. 1) Are any of them things that wouldn't work well on Wikipedia but would work well on Wikinews? 3) Are any of them things that the reader is very likely to wonder about, whose absence would make the article seem incomplete? Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:49, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Deciding what to include is directly related to the choice of focal event. Is this story about how InSight stuck the landing (implied by the headline) or about what InSight will do on Mars? Detailed information about InSight's tasks and capabilities in an article whose focus is the landing makes article lose focus and does not conform to the inverted pyramid style used on Wikinews. News articles should be tightly focused on a newsworthy event.
Per WN:PILLARS, the goal is not to "get it through review" (which implies a sloppiness and lack of care) but to write a news article according to Wikinews policies and guidelines and to collaborate with the reviewer, who gives the article a thorough check to make sure it is actually a news article and provides feedback so the writer can improve future articles. This doesn't mean that the reviewer can fix the problems: that's up to the writer. Ca2james (talk) 16:44, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Not sloppiness, Ca2James, just the reality that time is limited. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:48, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
The reality that time is limited and sloppiness, Darkftog24. That phrase indicates that time is more important than care, and if care isn't important than sloppiness reigns. Ca2james (talk) 23:07, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
I find your comment unnecessarily hostile. I did not indicate. You inferred. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:38, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Aim to de-escalate, please. For example, in this case one might simply say, "No suggestion of uncare was intended." Minimizes meta-ness. --Pi zero (talk) 23:51, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

I've shortened it to "Monday just before 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (8:00 p.m. UTC) NASA's "Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport" (InSight) Lander successfully touched down in Elysium Planitium. It sent a signal beep and image of the surface of Mars to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.", here is a hint to why in the title of the lander, and all other questions seem answered also. --Gryllida (talk) 21:56, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Okay it's fine, no need to add anything, just things I thought would be cool to add. There are things I don't understand yet about the requirements for Wikinews reporting. But some of it perhaps is being clarified with the edits on the other article.
@Gryllida: there's a technical reason why I put the InSight Lander.jpg image right at the top before the {{space}}. It's because if you put it anywhere else then when you share it on Facebook then the og:image that you see in the html source tells it to use the image of a star field from the {{space}} template so that means all Wikinews articles shared on Facebook have the same preview image which is normally nothing to do with the topic of the article. The Mediawiki software seems to take the first image it finds on the page in the wiki text, and use that to populate the og:image (og there stands for "open graph"[7] an open protocol for making a web page into a rich object for social networks, so this would be general e.g. I expect twitter would use the same image as the sharing thumbnail). On social networks people often click on an image that catches their eye so the image is important. If anyone knows another way to set the og:image do say! Robertinventor (talk) 22:11, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
I will just glance over it and see if I spot anything else. Robertinventor (talk) 22:13, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Personally I like to see the first paragraph stand out, as it is a summary. That's why I had moved the image down a bit. I don't think it's required but I think at least the image should be after the date line. Gryllida (talk) 22:29, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Interesting Facebook bug. Can we edit the space template somehow to indicate that this image should be avoided? Gryllida (talk) 22:30, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
I agree it looks better to me too. It's not really a Facebook bug as it is just doing as it was told, the Wikimedia software generated a web page that told it which image is the og:image, so it uses it as commanded by the html of the page. It is a Mediawiki bug if anything. There is probably a Mediawiki plugin that can set it for you. I doubt if we have it installed in Wikinews though if there is. Other than that there is probably nothing we can do unless - unless we edited the {{space}} to let us pass the thumbnail image as a parameter. Or perhaps it already does? I'll take a look in case it does. Robertinventor (talk) 22:43, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Pi zero would you be OK with addition of all images from all infoboxes to the MediaWiki:Pageimages-blacklist page (mw:Extension:PageImages; example)? Seems a bit lengthy work to me, but there's a finite number of infoboxes, so... Gryllida (talk) 22:51, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
@Gryllida: Just to say that seems to be a possible workaround. I had a go at overriding the {{space}} image, but it doesn't accept image= as a parameter. Short of editing the template. Presumably someone here is familiar with template coding, that seems the main alternative, to let the image in {{space}} be overridden on a per article basis. I would not say I am familiar enough to take it on myself, not with a high profile template, done a bit of template coding but not much. Robertinventor (talk) 23:07, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Review of revision 4448647 [Not ready]Edit

I kind of thought "because it was the 1970s" was enough to explain why InSight's seismometer is more sensitive than Viking's, but I sliced it out anyway. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:30, 28 November 2018 (UTC)
My impression was that, low though the sensitivity was, the bigger problem was that they were mounted on top and therefore subject to the action of the probe's shock absorbers. I'd actually call that more of a design screw-up. --Pi zero (talk) 23:07, 28 November 2018 (UTC)
(Possibly unfair of me; it may have been the best compromise available at the time, and perhaps they hoped to compensate in processing the data.) --Pi zero (talk) 23:36, 28 November 2018 (UTC)


  • "The mole" is its nickname [8] it is also referred to as a mole throughout the press conference, and it is also a common name for devices like this, e.g. the Beagle one was also called a 'mole' [9] and it has become the usual way to refer to devices like this, often called a "self hammering mole". In scientific papers too e.g. [10]
"An illustration of the InSight lander in its final configuration on the Martian surface. A Very Broad-band triaxial seismometer is deployed ~1-2 m away from heat probe with a self-hammering mole that will gradually penetrate down to 5 m below the surface."
  • regolith is a technical term that refers to surfaces of planets and moons that are broken up into a fine tilth by "impact gardening". The surface of the Moon is the lunar regolith, the surface of Mars is the Martian regolith. Without impacts over billions of years the surface would be mainly rock rather than "soil".
  • Opportunity uses solar power. Every dust storm then it goes into hibernation because it can't continue without solar power. This last one was a particularly long one and the rover never woke up at the end of it. They tried several times but haven't managed to wake it up yet. It probably had some electronic failure in the extreme cold with not enough power to keep it warm enough to survive. It is a ten year old mission and it was an aging rover. See for instance [11]
  • The Viking seismometers were old technology and they were mounted on the landers. And the Viking 1 seismometer had an equipment failure - when they tried to uncage it, then it didn't respond to the command. Viking 2 was uncaged but it was only designed to be able to pick up big quakes and Mars was quieter than expected. There was one possible Mars quake but they haven't managed to prove that it was a quake. They were an add on experiment, not the main mission which was to search for life on Mars, and they weren't 'expecting Mars to be so geologically inactive. These are very early days in Mars exploration in the 1970s. The Insight seismometer is far more sensitive than was possible in the 1970s and it is also placed directly on the ground so is not affected by things happening inside the lander -there is a special deployment arm to do this, to deploythe seismometer and also the mole. This can all be explained with sources if needs be. Robertinventor (talk) 16:41, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
  • The cube sats relayed everything continuously through the Entry Descent and Landing. Just before the sequence started they switched them to "bent pipe" mode which meant that everything from the lander was relayed through the cube sates. Everything was also picked up by one of the Mars orbiters but it could only relay the data with a 3 hour delay for technical reasons that it had to record then re-broadcast. The cube sats relayed directly. Everything right up to the first image from teh surface was relayed through the cube sats - without them we wouldn't have known even if it was a success until 3 hours later. It was an experiment but it worked perfectly. I watched the whole thing live as it happened and all the live events were relayed through the cube sats. They didn't relay anything until just before the entry started. After the lander separated from the spaceship that brought it to Mars (and so loss of contact with Earth that way), the cube sats then started relaying signals from the lander all the way through to the first image from the surface. Because the lander couldn't signal all the way back to Earth at that point, unlike its mother spacecraft so had to communicate via orbiters or cube sats. Robertinventor (talk) 16:54, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Definition of 'regolith' in OED "The layer of unconsolidated solid material covering the bedrock of a planet." [12]. It is just the standard term used in this context and as a dictinoary word, I think shouldn't need a source but can be defined for readers who don't know what it is.

Just to add the reason it is called a mole is because it burrows itself into the ground - a self hammering mole because it does that by hammering away at the soft soil or regolith. If you watch it you'll see it burrow into the ground and then disappear from view just leaving a wire, or in this case a band that dissapears into the ground. Video embedded in my astrobiology wiki article: [13] NASA describes it as[14]

"The mole then hammers itself under the surface. ... Like a mole with a sensitive tail, HP3 pulls a ribbon-shaped cable behind it that's jam-packed full of temperature sensors. "

Robertinventor (talk) 05:02, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

Review of revision 4448688 [Passed]Edit

Return to "NASA's InSight Lander makes it to Mars" page.