June 2013: Dutch Soil Investigation technology involved in Mars mission

​A.P. van den Berg supplies lightweight in-situ soil investigation systems to NASA (JPL) and the German Aerospace Center

The German Aerospace Center DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) in Bremen, Germany and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA in Pasadena CA, USA, have purchased two identical lightweight soil investigation systems (CPT) from A.P. van den Berg for the benefit of the preparations for “InSight”, NASA’s mission to Mars. After the launch in March 2016 NASA will investigate the planet's deep interior structure for approximately 2 years to better understand the evolution of the rocky Red Planet.

Mars mission “InSight”

During this mission various technologies will be deployed from the Mars Lander to conduct investigations on or below the Martian surface. Jet Propulsion Laboratory is not only NASA’s mission leader, but also technology provider. DLR from Bremen has developed a special measuring instrument named “HP3” and had been selected by NASA to provide technological support to this InSight mission. HP3 stands for “Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package”. It is a fully-automatic mole - an instrument container that is driven into the Martian subsurface by an electromechanical impact mechanism – that will measure the soil's thermo-physical and electrical properties. Scientists will be able to interpret this data to understand the planet's thermal evolution, its interior structure and activity, and the geological stratification. More information about this mission and the HP3 and other technologies can be found here.

In-situ systems from A.P. van den Berg

A mission like this is meticulously prepared to safeguard all investments and avoid failures on Mars. That’s why both DLR in Bremen and JPL in Pasadena execute an exhaustive test program with the HP3. At both locations a test setup is built, in which special sand from amongst others the Mojave desert approximate the Martian soil conditions. The in-situ soil equipment from A.P. van den Berg, that is based on Cone Penetration Testing (CPT), is used to correlate the soil test beds at both locations before and after every HP3 test, so the comparative research and data interpretation can be optimized. During 2014 and 2015 many HP3 and CPT tests were performed in which measurement quality is of utmost importance for the tests’ and mission’s success. A.P. van den Berg had been selected as supplier because of her renowned high-quality equipment, innovative measuring systems, worldwide references and reliable service.