Dr. Trebi-Ollennu designed the robotic arm, which will dig deep beneath the surface of the planet to see explore how it was formed.
This is because at the heart of the historic landing on Mars on Monday is the remarkable work of Ghanaian engineer Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu who is the team lead for InSight at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Throughout his career, Trebi-Ollennu has won many accolades such as the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (2008); Sir Monty Finniston Achievement Medal (2007) for outstanding technical contribution to any field of Engineering from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET); Outstanding Engineer Award (2007); JPL Mariner Award from MER for outstanding leadership in the analysis and resolution of the IDD unstow anomaly on Opportunity rover (2006); NASA Group Achievement Award-Mars Exploration Rover Avionics Team (2004); and the NASA Group Achievement Award-Mars Exploration Rover Flight System, Management and Engineering Team (2004) to name a few. They are the first CubeSats sent into deep space. And unlike the moon landing, they completed the most hard part of the mission - the speedy descent through the atmosphere, the deployment of parachute and lander legs and the eventual landing on the surface of Mars - all with their hands off the controls. "We are well on our way to thoroughly investigate what's inside of Mars for the very first time". That process was programmed to begin about 16 minutes after landing and take another 16 minutes to complete.
These instruments include the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures to investigate what causes the seismic waves on Mars, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package to burrow beneath the surface and determine heat flowing out of the planet and the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment to use radios to study the planet's core.
This is why the information InSight sends back about its landing site is crucial. While the InSight lander began its surface operations immediately, science data collection will begin about 10 weeks after landing.
NASA’s InSight Lander Takes First Images after Touching Down at Mars
InSight's twin solar arrays are each 2.2 m wide when they are open. But the lander does not need much to operate. "To be able to be a part of it, even in a small way even, is really kind of fantastic". The network got the first photos and videos of the landing apparatus.
"We are solar-powered, so getting the arrays out and operating is a big deal", said InSight project manager Tom Hoffman at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
King said he thinks it'll be about three months before he sees any of InSight's data. The landing site is near the Mars equator on the western side of Elysium Planitia, a plain that is roughly 373 miles away from the Gale Crater where the Curiosity Rover landed in 2012.