Science

NASA's InSight spacecraft on its option to landing Mars on November 26

NASA's InSight spacecraft on its option to landing Mars on November 26”

"It takes thousands of steps to go from the top of the atmosphere to the surface, and each one of them has to work perfectly", Rob Manning, the chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a video. When it lands 6-1/2 minutes later, it will be traveling a mere 5 miles per hour (8 kph).

NASA's latest mission to Mars is about to enter an exciting new phase.

Here's a minute-by-minute look at the biggest moments of InSight's landing sequence - any of which could doom the robot.

The JPL controllers also expect to receive a photo of the probe's surroundings on the flat, smooth Martian plain close to the planet's equator called the Elysium Planitia.

"Keeping in mind our ambitious goal to eventually send humans to the surface of the Moon and then Mars, I know that our incredible science and engineering team - the only in the world to have successfully landed spacecraft on the Martian surface - will do everything they can to successfully land InSight on the Red Planet".

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But overall, only about 40 per cent of all missions by the U.S., Russians and others have succeeded.

"We can't joystick the landing, so we have to rely on the commands we pre-programme into the spacecraft". Almost two dozen other Mars missions have been sent from other nations.

InSight's primary instrument is a highly sensitive French-built seismometer, created to detect the slightest vibrations from "marsquakes" and meteor impacts.

One way engineers may be able to confirm quickly what activities InSight has completed during those seven minutes of terror is if the experimental CubeSat mission known as Mars Cube One (MarCO) relays InSight data back to Earth in near-real time during their flyby on November 26. The probe is equipped with a mechanical mole to tunnel underground to measure internal heat.

It represents NASA's ninth attempt at landing a spacecraft on Mars. The communication lag between Mars and Earth is eight minutes.



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