Space for everyone by Dr Jozef Kozár

Ringo, the first dog on Mars

On Monday, 26 November 2018, were many of us watching the landing of another automatic planetary probe on Mars. The newest robotic inhabitant of Mars is called InSight.

InSight is a robotic planetary probe, which mission is to study the interior of Mars. The mission is operated by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA) in Pasadena California. For study of Mars, is InSight equipped with a set of scientific instruments, including the instruments provided by European partners.

The InSight mission was planned to start already in 2016. But due to the problems discovered by pre-flight tests, was the mission postponed to the next suitable launch window in 2018. So the mission really started on May 5, 2018, when InSight lifted off by its launcher Atlas V from Vandenberg launch site in the Western coast of the USA.

InSight reached Mars on Monday, November 26, 2018 and after the dramatic 6.5 minutes it successfully landed on Mars in the area called Elysium Planitia. The first image of the surface around InSight was delivered to the mission control after 6 minutes.

Image above: Ringo’s “boarding pass” as the confirmation of his virtual participation on the mission InSight:

The preparation of the mission of InSight had begun a long time ago. When the mission was approved and after the first technological tests, has NASA published a call for the virtual participation for all people interested in Mars research. That time I was already working on one Mars technology research very closely related to and also co-operating with NASA. I remember that I did not hesitate that time and I immediately decided to submit a personal data of our dog Ringo. His full official name “Ringo Richard Starr” was recorded to the microchip on board of InSight. There was also a small paradox, because my last name was added by the system to Ringo’s name, but this is really not a problem, because he is definitely the most important family member anyway. Of course, later were added a thousands of other people from all around the world. But I am sure that Ringo is most probably the first dog in the world, whose name is now on Mars!

Image above: Microchip with personal data on board of InSight robotic probe (installation in the clean room).

During the landing of InSight on Mars was Ringo watching the whole process together with us. After the successful landing, he was happy exactly like all the people around. And if you would like to ask me, why I decided to add Ringo’s personal data exactly to this mission? The answer is very simple. More than a half of my work is related to Mars and Ringo as my assistant is always present when I am working, when I am writing my contributions, etc. He simply deserves that and all of us are very happy of that.

Image above: Ringo with NASA logo in the evening after the InSight landing on Mars 🙂

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Image resources: NASA and my own photos.

 

 









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