NASA's Mars Craft Nears Landing For Historic Mission

Mars In Sight landing

From atmospheric entry to landing In Sight will take about seven minutes to reach its final destination

By the time this is published, NASA's InSight spacecraft will have landed on Mars to explore aspects of the planet never investigated before.

"We've spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings and studying all the conditions Mars can throw at us", said Rob Grover, InSight's entry, descent and landing (EDL) lead, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a recent statement.

This includes the intrepid Curiosity rover - whose team took to Twitter to share their enthusiasm ahead of the big Mars landing scheduled to take place on November 26.

InSight is the first mission dedicated to studying the deep interior of Mars, the first to place a seismometer directly on the surface of another planet and will probe 15 time deeper than any previous mission. Then, it will fire its retro rockets to slowly descend to the surface of Mars, and land on the smooth plains of Elysium Planitia.

NASA's InSight will soon arrive at Mars following a six-month journey. "This is a very hard activity that has to be done automatically by the lander", he said. This should help answer questions about the formation of rocky planets in the inner solar system.

InSight is being followed to Mars by two mini-spacecraft that comprise NASA's Mars Cube One (MarCo), the first deep-space mission for CubeSats, or tiny satellites.

Mars gets a new visitor from Earth on Monday.

Dr Hagermann said: "It is exciting to be involved in the NASA InSight mission".

"We continue to ideal landing techniques using robotic landers on Mars", Clarke said.

Mars In Sight Landing
InSight will use rockets to stabilize the probe and set it gently on the martian surface

MarCO is a small spacecraft that's flying to Mars with InSight.

The window below is counting down the seconds until the landing coverage right now and will switch over to live coverage from NASA's JPL mission control shortly before InSight begins its descent.

It is NASA's first attempt to land on Mars in six years, and anxiety is building. What we'll see is the mission control room along with all the graphs and statistics that show where the lander is and what it's doing. InSight will hit the atmosphere of Mars at 2:47 p.m. EST, and roughly seven minutes later it should be on the surface.

Vice President Mike Pence was among the anxious watchers, Bridenstine said; he called the administrator to congratulate NASA minutes after InSight's successful landing.

After that landing, InSight will deploy its solar array to power its instruments, which will probe Mars' terrain, temperature and geological structure.

Speeding faster than a bullet at 12,300 miles per hour (19,800 kph), the heat-shielded spacecraft encounters scorching frictions as it enters Mars' atmosphere.

What time is NASA InSight landing on Mars today?

All the observations and reports coming back from NASA's robotic explorers at Mars will help the human Mars pioneers, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, chief of science missions for NASA. A feat that only NASA has managed so far. The agency also will get its first clear images of the spacecraft's landing site - a vast, flat, nearly featureless plain near the equator. Unlike InSight, the MarCO spacecraft keep on going past Mars into space.

The U.S., however, has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past four decades, not counting InSight, with only one failed touchdown.

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