Look Out Mars, Here Comes InSight

Mars In Sight landing

This probe is nicknamed "the mole" as it is self-penetrating: Once placed on the surface, it can dig a hold as deep as 5 metres, gradually using a tether to descend and measure how heat is transferred under Mars's surface and how it flows in the core. NASA satellites around Mars will provide updates.

InSight's perilous descent through the Martian atmosphere, after a trip of 300 million miles (482 million kilometers), had stomachs churning and nerves stretched to the max.

'The success rate of Mars landings is a little less than 50%, which isn't brilliant.

InSight could hand NASA its eighth win.

If you're in New York City, the historic NASA InSight Lander landing will be broadcast on the Nasdaq screen in Times Square.

For the first time, a pair of interplanetary cubesats nicknamed "WALL-E" and "Eva" will relay signals from the landing in near-real time. At 3 P.M. EST the spacecraft should touch down on Mars. If successful, the landing will be the first touchdown on Mars since 2012, when the Curiosity rover arrived on the planet and began its study of Mars' geologic history and potential for past or present life.

A successful entry, descent and landing (EDL) on Mars of the US spacecraft InSight will be largely decided by the two events of parachute deployment and radar lock-up, chief scientist of the Mars lander Bruce Banerdt said Sunday.

Project manager Tom Hoffman said Sunday he's trying his best to stay outwardly calm as the hours tick down.

Mars In Sight Landing
InSight will use rockets to stabilize the probe and set it gently on the martian surface

The combo of thousands of steps to be made by InSIght starts with just seven minutes before it reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere, when the cruise stage gets separated.

InSight will be landing at Elysium Planitia, called "the biggest parking lot on Mars" by astronomers. The InSight lander is aiming for what scientists and engineers hope is flat plain on the red planet.

Phoenix, however, was a great success, and the stationary lander outlasted NASA's expectations, surviving almost double the 90 Martian sols planned for the mission before succumbing to dust and cold in a way that we fervently hope the Opportunity rover has not. A live webcast of the approach and landing InSight to Mars will be carried out on 26 November on the official website of NASA.

Zurbuchen described InSight as "unique" because the waist-high lander contains instruments that were contributed by several European space agencies. They are experimental, however, and NASA is not counting on this data.

Viewing parties are planned coast to coast at museums, planetariums and libraries, as well as in France, where InSight's seismometer was designed and built. From there, it can take Mars's temperature to determine how much heat is still flowing out of the body of the planet. As such, the landing, which will take place later today, has been described by NASA as "seven minutes of terror".

Once InSight phones home from the Martian surface, though, he expects to behave much like his three young grandsons did at Thanksgiving dinner, running around like insane and screaming. "I'm going to unleash my inner 4-year-old on you, so be careful", he said. Along the way, we will obtain images and signals from other craft that are buzzing around the planet now.

"InSight scientists can't wait to explore the heart of Mars".

Seismology is the method that we've used to gain nearly everything we know, all the basic information about the interior of the Earth, and we also used it back during the Apollo era to understand and to measure sort of the properties of the inside of the moon.

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