NASA, InSight Mission

NASA’s Insight spacecraft which is sitting on the top of the Atlas 5 rocket will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch is scheduled for early morning on Saturday at 4:05 AM PDT.

We got a “Go ahead” for this launch, but the visibility for the launch is very low on that day as said by Ist Lt. Kristina Williams who is the weather officer for the US Air Force’s 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg. Williams said that “There is an 80 percent chance that we will have the visibility that low and you will not be able to see the launch. However, for the launch to happen, we are anticipating for all other mandatory range safety and user constraints that probability of violation is zero percent.”

The mission which is known as Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport will help in knowing about the planet’s interior. Bruce Banerdt who is the Insight principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said, “How we get from a ball of featureless rock into a planet that may or may not support life is a key question in planetary science.”

The main aim for the InSight will not hunt for the Martian bacteria nor will move on the surface of the Mars-like the Curiosity rover. It will help the researchers to probe the landing site, Elysium Planitia which is a flat, boring place and rocks are at a minimum.

In the same spot, there are about three seismometers which are housed in a sphere size of a volleyball, and it will go deep inside the surface of the Mars. The seismometers will help in detecting the landslides, dust particles, Marsquakes and meteor strike.  When it gets to land on the Mars, the robotic arm of the spacecraft will gently help in pulling out and help it to set in the ground as it is shown in the video images which are released by NASA.  According to scientists, they are expecting about to gather as many as 100 quakes during the mission in one Martian year.

The second instrument is a Mars self-hammering probe which will help in flowing the heat in the planet’s subsurface. It is known as Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package and will go about 15 times deeper on Mars surface.

The third instrument will help the scientists to track the lander’s location as Mars rotates.

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