Friday, 25 May, 2018

Lockheed Martin-built NASA InSight Lander Officially on its Way to Mars

Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos Nasa begins first ever exploration of Mars' interior
Eleanor Moreno | 06 May, 2018, 00:01

The US space agency worked through the Californian fog at the Vandenberg Air Force Base to get the Atlas V rocket, which is carrying Nasa's Insight probe, into the air at 4.05am local time (12.05pm British Summer Time).

NASA sent a Mars probe into space Saturday, the first interplanetary mission launch from the West Coast, and the first rover that will drill past the surface of the red planet.

The twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) mini-spacecraft have also been launched from dispensers mounted on the aft bulkhead carrier of the Atlas V Centaur second stage.

CubeSats, designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, are the first to travel interplanetary.

If the landing is a success, InSight will be the first spacecraft NASA has landed on Mars since the Curiosity rover in 2012.

Unlike Mars, Earth has active tectonic plates and convection that carries heat from the core outward, moving around the mantle layer.

The Mars InSight lander packed and loaded on its rocket for launch, scheduled for Saturday morning.

The NASA mission, InSight, was successfully launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California.

According to NASA, this unusual orbit was made possible by the relatively light weight of the InSight spacecraft to the capacity of the Atlas rocket.

Once InSight arrives, it will set up its instruments, carefully placing a seismometer on the red planet's surface and drilling a temperature probe nearly 16 feet down.


The InSight mission is expected to gather science for one Mars year - 26 months for Earthlings.

The key instrument on board the spacecraft is a seismometer which will be deployed on the Martian ground by a robotic arm.

This weekend, NASA is launching a machine created to study Mars at a much more fundamental level, helping to fill large gaps in scientists' understanding of the planet's geologic structure, composition and seismic activity.

"We were fortunate to have a great turnout at our Lompoc Airport for this historic Insight Mission to Mars launch", said Lompoc city spokeswoman Samantha Scroggin.

"We have studied the atmosphere, both globally and at the surface".

This data will then be used to compare with Earth's to help explain how the planets were formed 4.5bn years ago.

The lander is equipped with a seismometer for measuring Marsquakes, a self-hammering probe for burrowing beneath the surface, and a radio system for tracking the spacecraft's position and planet's wobbly rotation, thereby revealing the size and composition of Mars' core. California was always part of the plan.

The almost $1 billion Mars InSight probe blasted off shortly after 4 a.m. local time, roaring south down the coast to the delight of crowds gathered on beaches and church parking lots to watch in the pre-dawn darkness. NASA's new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, thanked the team and called it a big day full of firsts.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the Nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider.

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