Sci-tech

NASA InSight Mars Lander Will Study Earthquakes On Mars

NASA InSight Mars Lander Will Study Earthquakes On Mars

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.

NASA's long-term goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. However, the mission will last for at least one Martian year or 26 Earth months.

Mars no longer hosts tectonic or volcanic activity, but it is still cooling and shrinking, a process scientist believe causes quakes.

All this, of course, will help NASA better understand the features of the geological activity of Mars, which in turn will allow scientists to reconstruct the history of the planet. The lander is expected to touch down on the Red Planet's surface just after Thanksgiving, on November 26, 2018.

The goal of the ambitious undertaking is to excavate deep into the jagged surface of Mars and stay what makes the planet tick underground.

An artist's rendering of the InSight lander, set to launch May 5 from Southern California. The U.S.is the only country to have successfully landed and operated spacecraft on Mars, including the first time in 1976 (Vikings) and most recently in 2012 with the Curiosity rover.

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"It will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet's deep interior".

Like the Mars landers that came before, including the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, InSight will be launched by a United Launch Alliance rocket. Thus, scientists will be looking backward in time when they study Mars' frozen innards.

Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator on the mission at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said he expects InSight to record at least a dozen, but perhaps 100, marsquakes of magnitude 3.5 or stronger over the two year mission.

The launch pattern from the West Coast requires the rocket to burn a bit more fuel to deliver the craft on its proper trajectory. But unlike its predecessors, the spacecraft will blast off from the West Coast, California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. "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". Luckily, InSight is a bit smaller than other landers, so ULA was able to use the four-meter Atlas V rocket, the 401 version, instead of the larger five-meter rocket. "As soon as we're down we'll breathe more than a sigh of relief", he said. "And just this morning, we did the launch readiness review", Dunn said at the press briefing.

The official start of the countdown begins today at 10:14 a.m PDT (13.05 p.m EDT/17.05 p.m GMT) but starting tomorrow from 4:05 a.m PDT (7:05 a.m EDT/11.05 a.m GMT), a two hour launch window will open every day - should the first attempt at take-off not go quite according to plan - that is available until 8 June.


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