In another leg of space exploration, NASA’s Mars InSight lander will land on Mars in a month! Our nearest neighboring planet is on NAS’s visit cards no matter the circumstances. InSight has been in the news for quite a while now, ever since it was launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5, 2018.
InSight was launched along with a pair of experimental cubesats called MarCo which is designed to help in communication when the spacecraft descents on Mars surface on November 26, in a historic seven month 300 million- mile journey. As NASA prepares to land on Mars, history is being made with this unique mission. This instrument, the InSight Spacecraft aims to study the red planet inside out.
As intriguing as this mission sounds, it’s giving sleepless nights to engineers and scientists of NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton. This mission isn’t the work of a day or a couple of years but a whole 25 years have been dedicated to it. Bruce Banerdt, NASA’s principal investigator for InSight, in charge of this mission says that he dreamt of it for 50 years and worked for it every day for 25 whole years. Banerdt’s briefing was live streamed throughout the world
Project manager Tom Hoffman has provided logistics for the mission. He briefed a press conference and informed reporters that due to craft’s ballistic entry trajectory, touchdown on the surface will occur at 11:47 a.m. PT. Hoffman appears confident of this success of this mission and has used the term “regardless of anything” to describe the same. The mission is possible to due to joint works of countries such as the United States, France, Germany, England, Poland, Switzerland, and Spain.
The spacecraft InSight stands for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. The InSight spacecraft aim to stay in one place and study the interior of Mars including possible marsquakes. Scientists say that it will arrive in the midst of dust storm season so engineers have included extra thermal protection as a safety measure for craft’s short but difficult trip as it will travel the thin Martian atmosphere. Watch Rob Manning, chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory break it down to you below:
Robert Maddock, leader of the InSight EDL team at Langley, informed us that InSight is in wonderful health. It has already been subject to tests and reboots and engineers have determined how it would function if it were to lose contact with NASA or went into safety mode for that matter; this isn’t all. Engineers at NASA say that there are tests scheduled 4-5 days before the actual landing.
These tests aim to develop all the data products and decision making which are a prerequisite for a safe landing. Martian weather is keeping them on tenterhooks as the planet is in(famous) for dust storms.
InSight will gather science data for 2 Earth years, translated to one year on Mars. As of now, InSight is a million miles from Mars. We have been told that under any circumstances (Martian weather in regard) InSight will set down around 3 P.M. November 26.