NASA sets off InSight spacecraft to dig deep into Mars

Lynette PayneMay 06, 2018

In a twist, NASA launched the Mars InSight lander from California rather than Florida's Cape Canaveral. Second, it will be the first Nasa interplanetary mission to lift off from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California and third, the two CubeSats, hitchhiking on the flight, will be the first time CubeSats will go into deep space. It's due to reach its location within six months, even landing a comprehensive, clean plain close to the earth's equator called the Elysium Planitia.

NASA has not put a spacecraft down on Mars since the Curiosity rover in 2012. Not exactly two dozen additional Mars missions are established by additional nations.

Once settled, the solar-powered InSight will spend two years - about one Martian year - plumbing the depths of the planet's interior for clues to how Mars took form and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets.

In-Sight's chief instrument is a French-built seismometer, built to find the tiniest vibrations from "marsquakes" round Earth. 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.

These Mars tremors would help to reveal the underground rock layer of the planet. The chipwas attached to the top hull of the lander. Meteorite impacts can also have seismic effects. Instruments on the lander will dig deeper into Mars than ever before - almost 16 feet, or 5 meters - to take the planet's temperature. The US is the only country successfully to land and operate a spacecraft at Mars.

Also aboard the Atlas V rocket were a pair of mini satellites, or CubeSats, meant to trail Mars InSight all the way to Mars in a first-of-its-kind technology demonstration.The €1bn mission involves scientists from the United States and Europe.

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