• Question: What has been the hardest instrument to make? How long did it take?

    Asked by LaylaMaeM to Tris on 18 Nov 2020.
    • Photo: Tris Warren

      Tris Warren answered on 18 Nov 2020:

      Hi LaylaMaeM – thanks for your question. I was lucky to be involved in a mission to Mars called InSight. The InSight missions main instrument was a seismometer. A seismometer is used to measure Earthquakes or in this case – Marsquakes! It was really tricky to build – because we had to build the seismometer so that it could survive a rocket launch and work at the temperatures expected on Mars. During testing, we had a number of failures which broke when we vibrated it in our lab using the expected rocket vibration. And some broke when we tested them at -65C (that’s as cold as we expected it to get on Mars). : | We actually missed our rocket launch date because the seismometer just wasn’t ready in time and we had to delay the mission by two years. But we did manage to get it working and landed on Mars in 2018. I spent a total of 4 years working on building the InSight seismometer, but I was working with people who had spent 10 years working it. Here is a video of the celebration from when it landed on Mars – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVzzgwVyH4Y