Since 1960, at the dawn of the space age, humankind has launched dozens of missions to Mars, from brief flybys to orbiters that traveled around the Red Planet for years. On five of NASA’s missions there—in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and the current InSight mission—the imaging sensors on its cameras were made by Teledyne DALSA, a Canadian manufacturer of digital imaging sensors and semiconductors, in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
InSight—short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport—launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in May 2018. Six months later, it landed in a sand-filled crater on Mars’ Elysium Planitia, or equatorial plain, and immediately began surface operations, sending photographs back to Earth.
The cameras on the InSight lander will help scientists and engineers choose where to place instruments on the surface of Mars; these instruments will help them study the interior of Mars to “answer key questions about the early formation of rocky planets in our inner solar system—Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars—more than 4 billion years ago,” according to the official mission website.