US-based space agency NASA’s Mars InSight lander, due to arrive on the Red Planet’s surface on Monday night, may teach us more about Earth.
It is going to use seismometers to study the planet’s interior so we can learn more about how it formed and why it’s so different from Earth, BBC reported on Sunday.
In less than two days, NASA is landing on Mars with NASA InSight! Thank you to the NASA workforce… Let’s get this done and start the next phase!, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted on Saturday.
InSight will hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at 19,800 kilometres per hour (kph) and slow down to eight kph — about human jogging speed — before its three legs touch down on Martian soil.
That extreme deceleration has to happen in just under seven minutes.
“There’s a reason engineers call landing on Mars ‘seven minutes of terror’,” Rob Grover, InSight’s entry, descent and landing (EDL) lead, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has said in a statement.
“We can’t joystick the landing, so we have to rely on the commands we pre-programme into the spacecraft. We’ve spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings and studying all the conditions Mars can throw at us.
“And we’re going to stay vigilant till InSight settles into its home in the Elysium Planitia region,” Grover said.
Launched on May 5, Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander marks NASA’s first Mars landing since the Curiosity rover in 2012.
The landing will kick off a two-year mission in which InSight will become the first spacecraft to study Mars’ deep interior.
Its data will also help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own.
About 80 live viewing events for the public to watch the InSight landing will take place around the world. It will be at 1.30 a.m. on Tuesday in India.
People from around the world will be able to watch the event live on NASA Television, the agency’s website and social media platforms, including on YouTube.