How to Watch NASA's InSight Touchdown on Mars Live

This is an illustration showing a simulated view of NASA’s In Sight lander about to land on the surface of Mars. Image credit NASA  JPL-Caltech

The InSight spacecraft, which took off from California almost six months ago, finally made its landing on the surface of Mars Monday. Less than a minute after the parachute deploys, the probe will first jettison its protective heat shield and extend its three legs. An inquiry completed a year ago concluded that onboard computer software errors led to data conflicts, causing the probe to strike Mars at high speed. The team will check to make sure the instruments can be deployed safely, even if there are rocks nearby or InSight lands at an angle.

The giant NASDAQ screen in Times Square will start broadcasting NASA TV an hour before InSight's scheduled 3 p.m. EST touchdown.

The landing will be streamed live on NASA's official YouTube presence. It would be NASA's eighth landing on Mars.

Bringing live coverage from 91 million miles away will not be easy. In addition to the burrowing subsurface probe, InSight also carries seismometers that will measure "marsquakes" - tiny vibrations triggered by planetary activity under the planet's crust.

Immediately after landing, InSight's very first act was to snap a picture of the landscape immediately in front of it.

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The British seismic measuring tool will help scientists understand the inside of Mars, which has not yet been studied in depth.

"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands", said Glaze.

It is created to carry out its mission from a stationary position, and it is expected to land and set up shop in an area known as the Elysium Planitia, which JPL officials dubbed "the biggest parking lot on Mars", providing a flat solid surface for the craft to do its work. Just north of its equator, it's also a great place for InSight's solar panels to generate power for long periods.

The space agency's older, smaller Opportunity was roaming around up there until June, when a global dust storm knocked it out of service.

Unlike its roving companions, InSight will not be directly searching for signs of life on Mars. It will help inform how the onboard navigation steers the craft, once the probe cuts loose the parachute and lands using rockets. So, once the InSight team is ready, they will set the Heat Probe down on the ground, likely after the seismic instrument is in position. Information gleaned from the waves the seismometer detects will tell us more about the planet's interior. This spot is open, flat safe and boring, which is what the scientists want for a stationary two-year mission. The lander has three main scientific instruments: the shielded seismometer that Curiosity tweeted about, a "mole" that's created to burrow down as far as 15 feet and take Mars' temperature below ground, and a radio transponder that can make precise measurements of Mars' movements. "It takes skill, focus and years of preparation", said associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters Thomas Zurbuchen in a statement.

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Is Curiosity still on Mars?

However, NASA's Opportunity rover, which landed in 2004, looks to have finished its mission after engineers lost contact with it in August 2018.

"InSight is a mission to Mars, but it's much, much more than a Mars mission".

Next up is NASA's Mars 2020 rover, which is modeled on Curiosity and planned to launch in summer 2021 for a February 2021 landing.

InSight's 6-foot robotic arm will be used to place the instruments on the Martian surface, where they will be calibrated.

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