November: NASA will show the first Mars landing in six years
November: NASA will show the first Mars landing in six years
Illustration of NASA's In Sight lander about to land on the surface of Mars
01 December, 2018, 15:31
Landing a spacecraft and that too achieving a soft landing for InSight, on a planet that is on average about 12.5 light minutes away, means NASA will have to keep a sharp watch on all the data related to InSight's health and trajectory, says a report by the space agency.
A NASA spacecraft created to drill down into Mars' interior landed on the planet Monday after a perilous, supersonic plunge through its red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists who had waited in white-knuckle suspense for confirmation to arrive across 100 million miles of space.
This includes the intrepid Curiosity rover - whose team took to Twitter to share their enthusiasm ahead of the big Mars landing scheduled to take place on November 26. The spacecraft has been created to give Mars its first thorough checkup since the red planet formed, about 4.5 billion years ago.
The NASA Martian lander InSight dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars is seen in an undated artist's rendering.
The NASA Viking probes of the mid-1970s were equipped with seismometers, too, but they were bolted to the top of the landers, a design that proved largely ineffective. It's also taking over NY with the landing set to be shown on big screens in Times Square.
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InSight will also deploy a seismometer to monitor earthquakes, which will also uncover information about the Red Planet's interior.
NASA's last Martian landfall took place with the Curiosity rover in 2012, so interest in the mission was heating up, with viewing parties planned at museums, planetariums and libraries across the US. They will also provide additional landing data and telemetry for engineers to analyze after the fact, aimed at improving future missions' shots at successfully touching down on Mars.
You may be wondering if InSight will meet native forms of life during its stay on Mars; alas, that question will remain unanswered.
The mission control team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles hopes to receive real-time confirmation of the craft's arrival from data relayed by a pair of miniature satellites that were launched along with InSight and will be flying past Mars.
"In the coming months and years ... the history books will be rewritten about the interior of Mars", JPL Director Michael Watkins said at a post-landing news briefing. "But even after landing, we'll need to be patient for the science to begin". That means slowing down from 12,300 miles per hour as it enters the Martian atmosphere to a complete stop on the ground 6.5 minutes later.
NASA scientists chose InSight's landing zone, the vast and tiresome Elysium Planitia, because they're interested in Mars's interior, not its surface.
The lander will dig deeper into Mars than ever before, reaching a depth of roughly 5 metres.
A full list of these events can be found on Nasa's website, here.
Tom Hoffman of JPL, InSight's project manager, added:"Landing on Mars is hard and takes a lot of personal sacrifices, such as missing the traditional Thanksgiving [to prepare], but making InSight successful is well worth the extraordinary effort". Unlike InSight, the MarCO spacecraft keep on going past Mars into space. Yet one of the most critical phases of the landing won't occur until 16 minutes after touchdown, when the dust kicked up by its landing has settled and Insight unfurls its two solar panels.
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