Thursday, 13 December, 2018

NASA Spacecraft Descending on Mars

NASA undated handout artist impression of NASA's In Sight lander about to land on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft hurtling towards Mars will be the first to study the deep interior of the planet if it survives the landing. PRESS ASSOCIATION Nasa’s Insight Mars lander will touch down on the Red Planet tonight if everything goes according to plan
Elijah Vega | 01 December, 2018, 15:33

Unlike its roving companions, InSight will not be directly searching for signs of life on Mars.

"My imagination has always really been challenged by Mars because we keep on running into things that are crazier than I ever imagined", Bruce Banerdt, principle investigator of the InSight mission, said yesterday during a NASA press conference.

Visit Space.com Monday, Nov. 26, for complete coverage of the InSight landing on Mars, including a live webcast at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT). Almost two dozen other Mars missions have been sent from other nations. If MarCO makes its planned Mars flyby, it will attempt to relay data from InSight as it enters the planet's atmosphere and lands. But as InSight makes its precarious descent, NASA hoped to learn about its status via the MarCo satellites - tiny twin experimental spacecraft known as CubeSats that accompanied the lander on its flight to Mars.

The InSight lander is expected to touch down within hours, as anxiety builds among those involved in the $1 billion worldwide effort.

It is NASA's eighth successful Mars landing since the 1976 Vikings.

After traveling almost 300 million miles, NASA's InSight mission is closing in on its scheduled rendezvous with the Red Planet.

While Earth's tectonics and other forces have erased most evidence of its early history, much of Mars - about one-third the size of Earth - is believed to have remained largely static, creating a geologic time machine for scientists.

Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the U.S., Russian Federation and other countries have been lost or destroyed over the years, with a success rate of just 40 percent, not counting InSight. This probe is nicknamed "the mole" as it is self-penetrating: Once placed on the surface, it can dig a hold as deep as 5 metres, gradually using a tether to descend and measure how heat is transferred under Mars's surface and how it flows in the core. Secondly, since the lander will not move upon touchdown (unlike a rover), it was important to land in a place where science experiments could be performed at ease.

No Hard Evidence Saudi Prince Ordered Khashoggi Killing: Pompeo
It was unclear whether the French president was calling for an worldwide investigation beyond existing Turkish and Saudi probes. Saudi Arabia was the second-largest purchaser of French arms between 2008 and 2017, with deals totalling more than $12.5bn.

What time is NASA InSight landing on Mars today?

The smaller, 880-pound (360 kg) InSight - its name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - marks the 21st USA -launched Martian exploration including the Mariner fly-by missions of the 1960s.

This is the first time NASA has used a robotic arm to place instruments on the surface of Mars, and the agency wants to be careful.

A full list of these events can be found on Nasa's website, here. The Soviet Union's Mars 3 did reporting back its landing at a jarring 46 miles per hour in a dust storm. "This is a very hard activity that has to be done automatically by the lander", he said. As these tremors travel through rock, they reveal the thickness and composition of the planet's internal layers, NASA officials explained in a statement.

InSight is scheduled to land at Elysium Planitia near the Martian equator on Monday.

There it will operate for the next two Earth years, deploying a seismometer, a heat sensor and radio antenna to probe the Red Planet's interior.

Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions. The spacecraft will then send out two signals-one to say it has landed then another to confirm it was a successful touchdown.

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