NASA To Get "Insight" Into Mars' Core

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NASA To Get "Insight" Into Mars' Core

InSight will be followed closely by two small friends that will separate from the upper stage immediately after the lander: cubesats known as Mars Cube One, or MarCO, that measure no more than 36 cm (14 inches) on a side before their solar panels and antennas are deployed.

The pioneering InSight mission (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is the first one aiming to investigate Mars' deep interior and to study what goes one below the surface of the Red Planet in terms of tectonic activity and temperature. "These are our scouts", NASA's Andy Klesh, the project's chief engineer, said in a news release. For two years, InSight will stay perfectly still while the domed instrument listens to the seismic waves traveling through Mars. Scientists hope these patterns will help them better understand Mars' inner structures and composition, as well as offer insights into the Red Planet's origins and evolution. Using the heat probe to determine whether that's true will help scientists gauge the accuracy of their theories about how Mars formed.

An artist's rendering of the InSight lander, set to launch May 5 from Southern California.

I am excited about weather instruments mounted on the lander deck. With that information, scientists can monitor how much Mars wobbles on its axis, movement that sheds light on the size of the planet's core and whether it is liquid or solid. The arm is also equipped with cameras, which will provide 3-D color views. It is the successor of the NASA's Phoenix Lander, which about a decade ago spent a successful week at the Mars.

-European mission is dedicated to studying the innards of Mars, with a robotic geologist digging 15 feet into the Martian soil. "As soon as we're down we'll breathe more than a sigh of relief", he said. They also stopped by the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, where the Mars 2020 rover is now being put together.

It will be the first ever NASA's interplanetary mission from the west coast of the United States. The two CubeSats are also expected to phone home within minutes, cutting down on the amount of time traditionally required for a spacecraft to communicate with Mission Control on Earth. "The further out you go, it gets harder and harder to send a big spacecraft".

"Going forward, this will translate to allowing us to go places and do measurements that we haven't been able to make before", he says.

NASA's InSight spacecraft is scheduled to lift-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:05 a.m. and will produce a contrail that will likely be visible from San Diego County.

Space boffins and enthusiasts can watch the launch live from California thanks to NASA's round-the-clock streaming on NASA TV and NASA's YouTube channels.