NASA's InSight spacecraft is about to blast off for Mars

Orbital ATK employees wearing protective clothing

Once launched, InSight will travel for about six months to get to Mars, and is scheduled to set down on the surface on November 26 assuming it launches tomorrow.

But the primary goal of the MarCO mission, says Klesh, is to prove that mini-spacecraft technology is up to the challenge of interplanetary travel.

The Mars mission is officially known as the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.

NASA is poised to launch its first lander to Mars since 2012, an unmanned spacecraft called InSight that aims to listen for quakes and unravel the mystery of how rocky planets like Earth form.

Just a few weeks ago, NASA sent their Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) into orbit with the aid of a Falcon 9; now it is the turn of the InSight lander. These will orbit Mars, observing InSight's progress on landing and reporting back to Nasa's mission control. With that information, scientists can monitor how much Mars wobbles on its axis, movement that sheds light on the size of the planet's core and whether it is liquid or solid. Hopefully they can get this candle lit earlier rather than later.

During a pre-launch briefing, First Lieutenant Kristina Williams of the 30th Space Wing, the Weather Officer for the launch, reckoned that there was an 80 per cent chance that the launch would be shrouded in fog, which would be disappointing for viewers but not a constraint for getting the rocket off the ground.

Once on the surface, InSight will take interplanetary excavation to a "whole new level", according to NASA's science mission director Thomas Zurbuchen. Their mission, while important in their own right, will not impact upon the science objectives set aside for InSight. Once the Insight's globe is on the surface, it can take the most sensitive seismic measurements ever made on another planet.

The 358kg lander features a robot arm measuring 2.4 metres, which scientists will use to position instruments on the surface, and solar panels able to generate 600 - 700 watts. The moon still holds seismometers left behind by the 12 moonmen. This is an ambitious experiment; the probe is supposed to hammer itself an unbelievable 5 meters down into the Martian surface, far more than has even been attempted or achieved before. The Martian atmosphere and magnetic field also have been examined in detail over the decades. "That would make a great movie, but that's definitely not the way we're going to do it", Clement said. One mystery is why Mars, a planet less dense and half the width of Earth, did not grow any larger. "Even with all the studying that we've done, it could throw us a curveball".

Related News:



Most liked

New York Mets right to cut ties with Matt Harvey
Harvey never shied away from the lifestyle afforded an athlete in New York City, dating supermodels and hitting up top clubs. Because of Harvey's $5,625,000 salary, a trade may be hard to work out unless the Mets agree to send cash as part of a deal.

An 'Amazing Business': Buffett Buys 75M More Apple Shares In Q1
Apple has posted its profits of $61.1 billion with the net quarterly revenue of $13.8 billion in the first quarter of this year. Berkshire's latest Apple investment have suggested that it serves as a way of minimizing the corporate group's $116 billion.

Federal Judge Questions Mueller's Powers in Manafort Case
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also downplayed Manafort's involvement with the campaign in a press briefing. Mueller also accused Manafort of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.

'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' to End With Season 4, Possible Movie Finale
Nevertheless, Kimmy's upcoming season 4 will mark the end of its run, although there is a bit of a twist in store for fans. The show featured Tina Fey's trademark brand of wacky but topical comedy, often mining serious issues for laughs.

Trump makes it clear that Pompeo is his man at State
As he gestured to Pompeo, he added that "that spirit will only be magnified with this man right here". President Trump paid his first official visit to State headquarters to attend the ceremony.

Arizona teachers: Salary raises won't fix classrooms with cockroaches
Thousands of teachers (adorned in red clothing) have protested at the capitol and marched through downtown Phoenix each day since. Governor Ducey's signature awarded teachers a 9 percent raise in the fall and 5 percent in each of the next two years.

Indian cities top WHO list of most polluted in the world
PM 2.5 are tiny but deadly air particles, which can increase the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. According to WHO, air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world.

Liverpool legend Gerrard agrees Rangers deal; Friday announcement looms
Numerous former coaches and team-mates of Gerrard have had their say on the ex-England star taking up the role at Ibrox.

Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn 'charged' in United States over dieselgate
The company itself pleaded guilty to three criminal charges in January previous year , and paid fines totalling $US4.3 billion. The indictment alleges that Winterkorn had been informed of VW's diesel emissions cheating in May 2014 and again in July 2015.

Twin Peaks star Pamela Gidley dies aged 52
Following the announcement, fans of the late actress are flooding social media to remember Gidley and her successful career. This was the prequel movie to the short-lived television series , so it certainly brought a lot of attention to the actress.

In Libya, militants attacked the office of the electoral Commission, 12 dead
A date hasn't been set for the elections in Libya, which has two competing governments in the east and west. Seven people were wounded. "This breach targeted democracy, not just the HNEC", Sayah told reporters.

Prince Harry, Meghan pick carriage for wedding procession
Excitement may be building for the royal wedding but someone a little "closer" to Meghan Markle is clearly unimpressed. Bitter Thomas Markle Jr has warned Prince Harry , 33, to ditch the May 19 wedding with the Suits actress.

Apple March quarter report is in, iPhone sales on rose
Cook also said that the iPhone X was the top-selling phone in China, presumably citing third-party statistics. The tech business also reported iPhone sales levels that were only marginally below its own expectations.

Amazon to employ 3000 people at new Vancouver facility
The state of Washington also has a $300,000 budget to study a plan for fast trains connecting Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. The company also said Monday that it would add 200 jobs to a Minnesota office opened in 2016.

Texas woman convicted of leaving toddlers in hot auto where they died
Randolph "created several variations of the events" of May 26, police said - and was arrested less than a month after the tragedy. Randolph originally told investigators that she was folding laundry in the home and realized the children "took off".