NASA's InSight Mars lander makes historic touch down on Mars

The In Sight probe will use three instruments including a seismometer developed in France to study the interior of the planet Mars.                  NASA  JPL-Caltech

InSight also is fitted with a German-made drill to burrow as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground, pulling behind it a rope-like thermal probe to measure heat flowing from inside the planet. That means slowing down from 12,300 miles per hour as it enters the Martian atmosphere to a complete stop on the ground 6.5 minutes later.

According to the Principal Investigator for the instrument, Tilman Spohn, the instrument will tell scientists if Mars and Earth formed from the same "stuff", giving a clue to the how the rocky bodies in the solar system evolved.

If MarCO doesn't do the job, NASA should still hear a "beep" directly from InSight by 12:01 p.m.

The probe's key tool for sensing earthquakes, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), was developed in France's National Centre for Space Studies.

You can also go to in-person events, which are happening in places such as New York's Times Square and across the world.

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But the scientists won't know what happened until they get the first signals back, approximately eight minutes later - the time it takes for a signal to travel at the speed of light from Mars to Earth.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, already in orbit around Mars, will record data from the landing attempt for future analysis, while the MarCO CubeSats will relay real-time information as the spacecraft descends.

Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said: "We've studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry".

As for the approach, NASA has put together a short video that explains the step by step of how they plan to land InSight on Mars. A flight version of the Instrument Context Camera (ICC) that took this image is expected to take InSight's first image on Mars. The lander will then use a giant parachute, auxiliary retro rockets and atmospheric friction to slow to 5 miles per hour within six and a half minutes in order to land on a Martian plain close to the planet's equator. As seismic waves ripple through, they will be distorted by changes in the materials they encounter - plumes of molten rock or reservoirs of liquid water - revealing what's under the planet's surface.

InSight's landing will stream on NASA TV Public Channel, the agency's website, and social media channels.

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InSight's seismometer is so sensitive it can detect tremors smaller than a hydrogen atom. From there, it can take Mars's temperature to determine how much heat is still flowing out of the body of the planet.

The NASA Insight Mission will take place on Monday, November 26. There are two almost identical MarCO spacecraft that launched with InSight last May and have been trailing the probe on its flight to Mars.

Once InSight phones home from the Martian surface, though, he expects to behave much like his three young grandsons did at Thanksgiving dinner, running around like insane and screaming.

"I liken it to playing that claw game at a fairground, but with a very very valuable prize. and you're doing blindfolded and remotely from 300 million miles away", Barret said.

Banerdt said InSight's two-year mission would be long enough to dedect a suitable number of marsquakes to get enough data to answer their major scientific questions.

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