NASA’s InSight spacecraft is about to blast off for Mars

May 05 02:31 2018

“When it comes to rocky planets, we’ve only studied one in detail: Earth”, NASA said in a statement. Its goal is to test the interior of the red planet. Doing this with previous missions like Viking and Pathfinder revealed that Mars does precess, gave hints that Mars is differentiated – that is, has different layers of materials in it – and even gave an estimate of the size of its core.

Finally, there’s RISE, or the radio science instrument.

“We got to touch the planets and we got to see how it is to, like, go up into Mars”, added 7th grader Jaylee Cantu.

“I hope we can put on a good show”, Banerdt said.

InSight, the first interplanetary launch from the West Coast, is set to happen around 5:05 a.m. Saturday. On Mars, the spacecraft will use scientific instruments to take the first measurements of “marsquakes“, or quakes on Mars.

Mars no longer hosts tectonic or volcanic activity, but it is still cooling and shrinking, a process scientist believe causes quakes. Different materials underground reflect seismic waves in different ways, and from those differences scientists will be able to figure out the makeup of Mars’ interior. “The science we want to do with this mission is really the science of understanding the early solar system”, JPL’s Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator, said during a pre-launch briefing for reporters on Thursday. They’re all stationary three-legged landers; no roaming around.

After InSight lands, it will plop its watermelon-sized seismometer-built by the French space agency CNES-onto the Martian ground.

InSight will spend its first two months placing instruments on the surface to investigate Mars’ interior. All this will help to better understand the geological evolution of the neighboring planet. Mars is smaller and cooler, and its convection is slowed or stopped. “Are they happening deep in Mars?”

The mission, which will be about two Earth years, is expected to observe up to 100 marsquakes. It is the successor of the NASA’s Phoenix Lander, which about a decade ago spent a successful week at the Mars.

Night owl? Good news – there’s an historic rocket launch early tomorrow morning that you can catch while the rest of the country is sleeping.

An artist’s rendering of the launch of an Atlas V rocket carrying Mars InSight.

“But this particular launch, we’re going to do something that is very unique and it’s a one time opportunity for Vandenberg Air Force Base“, explained Buck.

This will be the first interplanetary mission ever launched from Vandenberg.

“During the original 2016 launch window, it was a very busy time in the schedule for ULA”, Scott Messer, the ULA program manager for NASA missions, told UPI.

For planetary missions, NASA needs the orbits of Earth and its target to line up just right.

Usually, these kinds of launches take flight from the East Coast due to the favorable rotation of the Earth, but the Atlas V is powerful enough to launch to the red planet from California. Instead, it will stay in place once landed, and explore the planet that way.

“We are expecting visibility to be bad”, she said. So far, we’ve learned a lot about the Martian surface – now, it’s time to probe its deep interior.

Liftoff is planned for 4:05 a.m. Saturday, but the team has until 6:05 a.m. for this mission to occur before being forced to try again another day.

Science       NASA’s Mars In Sight Lander Is All Ready for Get Set and Go! Know Launch Date  Time
       
                By Desk Team

NASA’s InSight spacecraft is about to blast off for Mars
 
 
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