NASA’s Newest Mars Lander is set to Touch Down on Mars in a matter of Days
Time flies, or so they say.
The last time NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars was six years ago when the Curiosity Rover successfully touched down on the Martian surface.
Now, six years after, NAS will attempt to land a brand-new spacecraft on the Red Planet’s Surface: the InSight mission.
InSight was launched on May 5, 2018, and it is expected to touch down on the Martian surface in a region called Elysium Planitia on November 26.
Lockheed Martin began construction of the lander on 19 May 2014, with general testing starting on 27 May 2015.
It will be the first NASA spacecraft to reach Mars since the arrival of Curiosity in 2012.
NASA explains that the new mission aims to study the “deep interior” of the Red Planet.
The data it collects will “help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including ours,” the space agency said.
An InSight is totally different from all rovers currently exploring Mars.
Missions such as Opportunity or Curiosity have provided a great view of the surface, including Mars’ cannons, volcanoes, soil, and rocks, but it is the building blocks below the surface that record the history of the planet, and it’s our weak spot when it comes to Mars.
While we know a lot about the surface, we know nearly nothing about what Mars is like below the surface.
As noted by Popular Science, “We don’t exactly know what the planet’s core is made of, how big it is, or how geologically active Mars might be. In order to understand these mysteries, we have to look below the surface. That’s InSight’s specialty.”
InSight will spend two years researching the planet’s interior and provide unprecedented scientific data that will help us see Mars like never before.
But before the spacecraft lands, it will have to survive “seven minutes of terror’ in a phase known as EDL, atmospheric entry, descent, and landing.
“We’re really excited,” says InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman. “There’s nothing as exciting as landing on Mars. So far we are in good shape. We’ve basically done everything we can to be ready.”
“Once we get an indication that we’ve landed successfully and get that first image back, the people that work EDL and the navigation team will go off and celebrate,” Hoffman says. “But the rest of us have to start the science part of the mission: the whole point of landing on Mars is to do the cool science.”