A month from today, Mars welcomes a new robbery that tries to search the planet's innards. NASA's InSight landlord is…
A month from today, Mars welcomes a new robbery that tries to search the planet’s innards.
NASA’s InSight landlord is scheduled to move down just north of the Martian Equator in the afternoon of November 26, giving an almost seven month spacecraft to an end. InSight launched together with the two small Mars Cube One (MarCO) cubes on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5.
InSights entrance, descent and landing sequence will be outrageous, as all Red Planet touchdown attempts are. [NASA’s InSight Mars Lander: 10 Surprising Facts]
Artist’s illustration of NASA’s InSight farmer at work on the Mars surface.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
The solar powered spacecraft catches the Martian atmosphere at 1400 km / h, and then insert a large parachute to slow down its descent. When the landmer approaches the surface, it will be pop-free from its rear shell and parachute, which moves smoothly using 12 descent engines approximately 6 minutes after its first taste of Mars’s air.
This touchdown comes on a high rise Elysium Planitia, only 370 miles (600 kilometers) from Gale Crater, where NASA’s car size Curiosity Rover landed in August 2012.
Elysium Planitia is “as flat and boring a place as anyone on Mars, “NASA officials wrote in a statement Wednesday (October 24). And therefore, the InSight team chose to land there – for safety.
On Elysium, “there’s less to crash into, fewer rocks to land on and lots of sunlight to drive spacecraft”, added NASA officials. “That InSight does not use much power and should have plenty of sunlight on Mars Equator means it can provide lots of data for researchers to study.”
InSight does not investigate surface features, so the “boring” part is no disadvantage. Lander totes and burrowing heat probe and a set of super precise seismometers; Observations of both instruments should reveal a lot about the Red Plan’s internal structure and composition, commissioners have said.
In addition, InSight (whose name is short for “Interior Design with Seismic Surveys, Geodesy and Heat Transport”). will conduct a radio science experiment using its communication equipment. This work will track the little wobbles of the Mars axis of rotation, revealing details about the size and composition of the planet’s core.
The various data collected by the $ 850 million InSight mission during its approximately two farm years will help researchers
NASA’s InSight landlord will move down Nov. 26, 2018, at Elysium Planitia, just north of Mars equator.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
And about the MarCO twins: These spacecraft were submitted for a demonstration mission aimed at showing that cubesats can really explore deep space. Things are going well so far. One of the twins recently beamed home to a photo of Mars – the first Red Planet image ever captured by a cube.
The MarCO craft will also try to beam home to Earth data from InSight during the landing touchdown attempt on November 26th. But this is not a decisive responsibility for the duo. Other NASA spacecraft, like the precious Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, will also do this relay work.
Mike Wall’s book on the search for alien life “Out There” will be published on November 13 by Grand Central Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @ michaeldwall . Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com.