Watch NASA's Mars-bound launch online HERE

05 May, 2018, 01:58 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • JPL | Cubesat | MarCO - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The launch is now scheduled for Vandenberg between 4:05 a.m. and 6:05 a.m. NASA has given a six-month time window to set InSight for Mars. JPL Director Michael Watkins led Pence; his wife, Karen; and their daughter Charlotte on a private tour of several facilities, including the mission control building and the "Mars Yard", an outdoor facility that mimics the Martian terrain. "Eventually Earth's convection will slow, so the InSight mission can help us predict what the future for Earth's interior looks like". Mars doesn't have plate tectonics.

Understanding how much heat is flowing out of the deep interior of the planet, is the job of the heat probe HP, while RISE will help scientists work out how the deep interior structure affects the planet's motion around the Sun.

There, the rover and two satellites will survey the Red Planet's terrain to learn how the planet was formed, seismic activity, and the effects of meteorites.

Other NASA missions to Mars are also planned, although the heat shield for the agency's 2020 Mars Rover recently cracked during tests. According to Kristina Williams, the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg, there is an 80 percent chance that people won't be able to see the InSight Mars lander take off from its Vandenberg launch pad. This will provide a unique insight (geddit?) into Mars' history. Seismic activity on Mars is thought to come from cracks forming in the crust, with the planet's interior energy expected to be less intense than Earth's.

The 794-pound lander, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., is set to touch down on November 26 after a six-month cruise and a six-minute re-entry and descent-the most perilous aspect of the journey.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Apollo moonwalkers drilled up to 8 feet (2.5 meters) into the lunar surface so scientists back home could measure the underground flow of lunar heat.

"Weather permitting, InSight's pre-dawn launch (4:05 a.m.) may be visible for more than 10 million Californians without a need for them to drive to a special location", NASA said. Instead, it will stay in place once landed, and explore the planet that way.

A two stage Atlas V 401 will send InSight on its way.

"We have a do-no-harm philosophy for secondary payloads", Messer said. "Once we're on the ground and have communications set up, I'm confident we can get a lot of great science out of the mission, no matter what happens".

The launch is set for Saturday, at 4:05 a.m. local time, aboard an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California, with a two-hour daily launch window.

Vice President Mike Pence made a visit to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL) in Pasadena, California, last Saturday (April 28) to tour the facility and check out the preparations for NASA's newest Mars mission.



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