Science

NASA spacecraft lands on red planet after six-month journey

NASA spacecraft lands on red planet after six-month journey”

NASA spacecraft "InSight" is created to burrow beneath the surface of Mars and crack open crucial secrets held deep inside the planet's rose-hued atmosphere. All but one of the previous USA touchdowns were successful.

The robotic will slow down from 12,300 miles per hour to zero in six minutes flat as it pierces the Martian atmosphere, pops out a parachute, fires its descent engines and, hopefully, lands on three legs.

InSight was shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas.

Unlike its more mobile brethren, such as NASA's Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, it will do all of its investigations where it landed, in situ. It will take about three months for the team to perform all the necessary tests and begin to deploy the instruments that InSight carried to Mars.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine receives a congratulatory call from Vice President Mike Pence after receiving confirmation of the successful landing of the agency's InSight spacecraft on Mars on November 26, 2018 at the Mission Support Area of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"It's taken more than a decade to bring InSight from a concept to a spacecraft approaching Mars - and even longer since I was first inspired to try to undertake this kind of mission", said Bruce Banerdt of JPL and InSight's principal investigator. Minutes after landing, InSight transmitted its first color image from Mars, via the MarCO relay, showing a bleak landscape through a veneer of dust that had accumulated on its camera's protective cover.

Tom Hoffman, InSight Project Manager, NASA JPL talks about the Mars InSight landing site during a pre-landing briefing today. The bold two-year mission will study the interior of the planet.

It is equipped with instruments to detect planetary heat and seismic rumblings never measured anywhere but Earth.

And a radio transmitter will send back signals tracking Mars's subtle rotational wobble to reveal the size of the planet's core and possibly whether it remains molten.

The British seismic measuring tool will help scientists understand the inside of Mars, which has not yet been studied in depth. The self-hammering mole will burrow 5 meters down to measure the planet's internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.

"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands", said Glaze.

InSight's two-year mission will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed.

InSight's efforts have the potential to teach us valuable information about the formation of rocky planets in our solar system.



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