NASA's Mars InSight is landing today

First image sent back from In Sight

The EDL team worked for months beforehand to pre-program every stage of InSight's landing, making adjustments based on weather reports from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Its mission is to stick to one place after it lands - and study the interior of Mars from the planet's surface.

If successful, the entry, descent and landing of the Mars InSight - created to be the first mission to listen to the interior of another planet and reveal how rocky planets formed - will add another success to NASA's record when it comes to sending spacecraft to Mars.

A pair of briefcase-size satellites trailing InSight since liftoff in May will try to relay its radio signals to Earth, with a potential lag time of under nine minutes.

The final major instrument on the mission, RISE, will precisely track the location of the lander to determine how much Mars's North Pole "wobbles" as the planet orbits the sun. "Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system".

There will be landing commentary and news briefings from scientists and engineers.

The odds are in NASA's favor, but it will be some time until the world finds out whether the landing is successful. After detaching from the parachute, 12 thrusters will slow the lander's descent to just over 2 meters per second before it touches down.

The instrument, mounted on the deck of the lander, will also give an indication if the core is liquid or solid.

Add to that the fact that fewer than half of all attempted Mars landings have ended successfully, and it makes sense that there will definitely be some nervous energy as these events play out on another planet, with engineers blind to the process until it is complete.

InSight handed NASA its eighth win.

After a seven-month journey, the lander will scream through the red planet's thin atmosphere at more than 12,000 miles per hour in a live-or-die bid to settle (in one piece) onto a flat area near the equator. This intense heat could cause temporary dropouts in radio signals.

"The goal of InSight is nothing less than to better understand the birth of the Earth, the birth of the planet we live on, and we're going to do that by going to Mars", said Principle Investigator Bruce Banerdt. After getting that radar signal, it separated from the remaining shell and parachute, firing its descent engines known as retrorockets to help slow it down even more.

"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands", said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. The probe will first touch the atmosphere six minutes and 45 seconds before landing.

Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions. Unlike InSight, the MarCO spacecraft keep on going past Mars into space.

InSight will land near the equator, in the western Elysium Planitia, about 600 km north from where the Curiosity rover is presently located. Mission managers wanted a boring spot - they want the probe to sit quietly.

The suite of geophysical instruments on InSight sounds like a doctor's bag, giving Mars its first "checkup" since it formed.

InSight will also deploy a seismometer to listen for marsquakes (like earthquakes, but Martian-style) and for impacts of meteors on the planet.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

GM to close 5 factories, including Hamtramck and Warren
General Motors says it plans to cease production of some models at three vehicle assembly plants in the US and Canada in 2019. Two transmission plants - one in White Marsh, Md., and another in Warren, Mich. - are also set to stop production.

Six isolated tribe encounters: The results are usually violent
He wrote that the tribesmen reacted angrily, adding that they were about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and had yellow paint on their face. Officials typically don't travel to the North Sentinel area, where people live as their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

James Comey, Loretta Lynch subpoenaed by House Republicans
CBS News' Rebecca Kaplan has previously reported that Democrats plan to demand the hearings with Comey and Lynch be held publicly. Comey, who was sacked by Trump , tweeted of House Republicans: "I've seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion".

Brazil 1-0 Cameroon: Neymar goes off injured as Brazil win friendly
On Wednesday, PSG announced that Mbappe has a bruised shoulder, while scans on Neymar showed a right adductor strain. Brazil forward Neymar had to be withdrawn after just eight minutes of his side's global friendly against Cameroon .

Samsung could pack 6 cameras into its flagship Galaxy S10
The device will also feature 5G support, and Samsung is going for a Spring 2019 release in the United States and South Korea. Has this latest news got you all excited to see what the most premium Galaxy 10 model will offer to the masses next year?

Google is letting users watch full free, ad-supported movies on YouTube
YouTube earns revenue from the movies through advertisements, instead of charging customers to view the movies. For the time being, there are only about 100 movies available on this new ad-supported venture on YouTube .

Bitcoin Price Plunges to New Year Low ($4,480)
The startups were penalized after they organized token sales without registering cryptocurrencies as securities offerings. Here, a visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency bitcoin is seen alongside USA dollars in London, Dec. 7, 2017.

Who is the Redskins’ backup for Alex Smith?
Maybe the Washington Post should've looked at their headline from 33 years ago to see what a proper post is supposed to look like. ESPN's Field Yates reported Monday that Washington will be signing the 32-year-old quarterback to serve as Colt McCoy's backup.

Adnan Januzaj says Manchester United will return to the top
Juventus have stepped up their interest in Manchester United star Marcus Rashford by making background checks on the England forward.

White House restores CNN reporter's pass but unveils new rules for journalists
CNN argued that it violated the network and Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights. A federal judge on Friday forced the White House to return Acosta's credentials.

Abrams preparing new challenge in Georgia race — APNewsBreak
The speech was not, however, a concession, she said, because "concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper". "Make no mistake, the former secretary of state was deliberate and intentional in his actions", Abrams said in her speech.

Trump opens door to trade deal with China soon
But so far, Washington's tariffs on Beijing have not provided a remedy, with the USA deficit on track to set a record in 2018. While the offer is not acceptable yet, he said he was optimistic for an agreement to get "reciprocal" trade.

Kim Porter's Sudden Death A Mystery To Investigators
TMZ reports, Kim had been treated with saline and vitamins days before she was found dead in her LA home. Porter also has a 27-year-old son, Quincy , from a previous marriage, whom Diddy helped raise.

Democrat Porter Up 261 Votes In California-45
Trump, who is close to McCarthy but also friendly with Jordan, largely stayed on the sidelines in the intraparty House contest. But since his election, he has changed course, saying instead the money must come from Congress and US taxpayers.

Hawaii LB Marist Liufau Commits To Notre Dame
Pitt, who Clemson is likely to play in the ACC championship game on December 1, is also unranked. MI remained at No. 4 in the College Football Playoff Rankings after defeating Rutgers 42-7.

Other news