The InSight lander is one of the essential spacecraft that have been deployed in recent times. It carries a diverse assortment of scientific tools that have already managed to collect relevant data about the Red Planet, including dust devils.
The full name of the spacecraft, Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, clearly infers that the primary focus is the interior of the planet.
However, some of the other tools mounted on the device have also provided interesting data. A team of researchers has concluded that gravity waves, weak background infrasound, and dust devils have been encountered near the landing location.
Many of the primary instruments, among which we can count the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, the Rotation, and Interior Structure Experiment, and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package target the inner regions of Mars.
NASA’s InSight Recorded Surprising Dust Devils on Mars
The Auxiliary Payload Sensor Suite (also known as APSS) is a miniature weather station that can track the temperature, wind intensity, magnetic field, and atmospheric pressure in the area where the rover is located. It can also deliver daily reports.
Some of the factors aren’t very surprising since researchers expected that pressure and temperature fluctuations are more intense on Mars since the atmosphere is considerably thinner, heating up and cooling down at an impressive speed.
One of the major surprises was the presence of gravity waves, which tend to be present in an unbalanced fluid that seeks to establish a state of equilibrium. Scientists were also puzzled by the presence of ultrasound, which is a low-frequency noise that cannot be picked by human hearing.
While it was thought that it would be present on the planet, the first measurement of the phenomenon was quite interesting, and tracking down the source will be an exciting challenge. Sensors have observed a significant number of dust devils, but no images have been recorded.