UPDATE: Aerospace management at Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) in Goleta confirms that the solar arrays for the InSight lander, the sole power source for this latest mission, deployed successfully.
Word came more than an hour later than expected, which Northrop Grumman staff said is not uncommon for these types of missions.
Reporter Beth Farnsworth talked to several engineers earlier in the day who worked on the panels.
“As I understand this day, if they don’t deploy the batteries do not charge and there is no mission,” said Todd Gregory, InSight’s Techinical Engineer.
Late Monday morning, dozens of employees gathered and cheered at the aerospace and defense company’s Pine Avenue facility as the InSight lander touched down on the Martian surface just before noon.
A team of more than 100 helped build the two-wing, lightweight Ultraflex Solar Array panels that will power the InSight lander and its mission for the next two and a half years.
“We’re all really proud of it, proud of our contributions,” said Jim Spink, Senior Program Manager. “Anytime you put something on another planet it’s a big deal. So, we’re all nervous, excited and looking forward to it.”
Northrop Grumman said the solar array panels generate about 600 watts of power, roughly the equivalent of a small space heater.