Video file for media and public use. NASA's next mission to Mars, the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, spacecraft, has passed a key test -- extending the solar arrays that will power InSight once it lands on Mars in November 2018. The test on January 23, 2018, took place at Lockheed Martin Space outside of Denver, where InSight was built. The fan-like solar panels are specially designed for Mars' weak sunlight and its dusty, thin atmosphere.
In addition to the solar panel test, engineers installed a microchip inscribed with more than 1.6 million names submitted by the public. It joined a similar chip that was glued to the top of InSight back in 2015. In total, the names of about 2.4 million people will be flying to Mars.
The mission is led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.