Sci-tech

Mars InSight mission: What Nasa's trip to Red Planet aims to discover

Mars InSight mission: What Nasa's trip to Red Planet aims to discover

The success a pair of cubesats achieved in relaying telemetry from NASA's InSight Mars lander demonstrates that such spacecraft can play increasing roles in future deep space missions, spacecraft designers believe. This will be the first time that a robotic arm will be used to put instruments on the martian surface in this way, Ravi Prakash of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said to Mission Control during NASA's InSight landing livestream.

A photograph that was sent 91 million miles across the universe heralded a significant triumph for Nasa last night as its $1 billion InSight lander touched down safely on Mars.

After years of preparation, NASA scientists successfully landed the InSight probe on Mars on Monday.

Mars InSight mission: What Nasa's trip to Red Planet aims to discover
NASA scientists celebrate InSight landing with handshake worthy of the NBA

InSight and MarCO flight controllers monitored and cheered for the spacecraft's successful entry, descent and landing from mission control at JPL in Pasadena, California.

The spacecraft is NASA's first to touch down on Earth's neighboring planet since the Curiosity rover arrived in 2012.

It will be the first mission to study the deep interiors of Mars - detecting "marsquakes" and meteor impacts in a bid to unlock the planet's beneath-surface secrets.

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All of this comes out over the next year or so on Mars. The photo was marred by hundreds of blurry specs of Martian dust (the transparent lens cover was still on the camera mounted under InSight's landing deck), but beyond these cosmetic blemishes, the Mars surface was clear.

After InSight landed, the two experimental satellites zoomed past Mars, their main job done.

NASA's science chief, Thomas Zurbuchen said previously: "As humanity, as explorers - we're batting at less than 50 percent".

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Assuming the heat flow probe deploys successfully, the measurements it makes could transform our understanding not only of how Mars evolved, but also how other rocky planets, like Earth, came to be. He said the basic design of InSight was inherited from the Phoenix spacecraft, which landed on Mars on May 25, 2008. The device, to be placed on the surface by the lander's robot arm, is so sensitive it can measure a seismic wave just one half the radius of a hydrogen atom.

NASA's InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) investigation lucratively accomplished its soft landing on Mars after a six month 300 million mile journey.

Bridenstine also said Vice President Mike Pence called to congratulate the United States space agency for its hard work.

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InSight, part of a $1 billion global mission, features a German-led mechanical mole that will burrow down 16 feet to measure the planet's internal heat. Mission scientists hope that discoveries from InSight will shed light on mysteries of Earth's own formation, as well as that of other terrestrial planets.


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