InSight probe to survey Mars for secrets inside the planet

The In Sight lander seen here in a NASA handout illustration is designed to monitor quakes on the surface of Mars

By placing an ear to the ground on Mars, mission scientists hope to record tremors, or marsquakes, for the first time. "Eventually Earth's convection will slow, so the InSight mission can help us predict what the future for Earth's interior looks like".

Mars no longer hosts tectonic or volcanic activity, but it is still cooling and shrinking, a process scientist believe causes quakes.

This weekend, NASA is launching a machine created to study Mars at a much more fundamental level, helping to fill large gaps in scientists' understanding of the planet's geologic structure, composition and seismic activity.

InSight will become the first interplanetary spacecraft to be launched from the West Coast.

Studying how the seismic waves move through the crust, mantle, and core of the Red Planet could help us learn more about how the different layers are made up and how thick they are. The InSight mission is part of NASA's Discovery Program which is managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center situated in Huntsville, Alabama.

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I am excited about weather instruments mounted on the lander deck. Alas, currently, engine power, MarCO will not be enough to slow down the machine and allow it to land on the planet, so they will just observe how InSight lands on the planet. Measuring nearly 16 feet, the probe will help scientists track the flow of heat through Mars' interior. "So we'll be able to compare and understand how terrestrial planets are put together at the very early stage of the solar system's development", said Green.

Previous Mars missions have focused on surface or close-to-the-surface rocks and mineral. Phoenix, for instance, dug just several inches down for samples. The U.S.is the only country to have successfully landed and operated spacecraft on Mars, including the first time in 1976 (Vikings) and most recently in 2012 with the Curiosity rover. If a meteor impacts Mars during the mission's two year primary mission, SEIS could detect it as it rings the planet like a bell. Whichever date the launch occurs, InSights landing on Mars is planned for November 26, 2018, around noon PST (3 p.m. EST).

The US space agency pencilled in an initial launch window of its Atlas V rocket at noon BST (4am PST) tomorrow. "As soon as we're down we'll breathe more than a sigh of relief", he said.

InSight, which is the first planetary mission that will take off from the West Coast, will be targeted to launch at 7.05 a.m. EDT (4.05 a.m. PDT) on May 5 from the Space Launch Complex-3 situated at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, NASA said in a statement. He's been collaborating the past six years on the project with Mars Exploration Rover Project Scientist Matthew Golombek at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to determine the best landing site for the spacecraft.

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