'Six and a half minutes of terror' before Mars landing

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to multiple media outlets about Mars InSight Monday Nov. 26 2018 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena Calif. The NASA spacecraft’s six-month journey to Mars neared its dramatic grand finale Mond

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to multiple media outlets about Mars InSight Monday Nov. 26 2018 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena Calif. The NASA spacecraft’s six-month journey to Mars neared its dramatic grand finale Mond

NASA prefers not to talk about Surveyor too much, seeing as the axe was wielded on the unfortunate spacecraft in the aftermath of 1999's Mars Polar Lander mishap, which blotted NASA's otherwise excellent copybook for landing on the Martian surface.

There are two almost identical MarCO spacecraft that launched with InSight last May, and have been trailing the probe on its flight to Mars.

As InSight descends into the Martian atmosphere, it will send radio signals to give an indication of its position.

Now, it's important to note that we won't actually get a live video feed from the InSight lander itself, and neither will NASA's engineers and controllers.

'The success rate of Mars landings is a little less than 50%, which isn't brilliant.

A further three achieved orbit but failed to land.

You may be wondering if InSight will meet native forms of life during its stay on Mars; alas, that question will remain unanswered.

It will then land on the smooth plains of Elysium Planitia.

If you want to watch the mission as it unfolds, NASA will broadcast live proceedings on its website here.

There will also be in-person viewing parties around the world.

Nasa hopes to measure Marsquakes and find out if the Red Planet has a liquid core and whether it contains iron. The Rover is expected to land on Mars Feb. 18, 2021. "About two hours before hitting the atmosphere, the entry, descent and landing (EDL) team might also upload some final tweaks to the algorithm that guides the spacecraft safely to the surface". The suitcase-size spacecraft, called MarCO, are the first cube satellites to fly into deep space. Any steeper and the probe will burn up. During this phase, it will experience acceleration 12 times that of the Earth's gravity.

Meanwhile, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will record the entry, descent, and landing of InSight in real time, but because of planetary dynamics, that spacecraft won't relay that information back to Earth for about three hours. This meant reinforcing InSight's heat shield and parachute suspension lines.

Ten seconds after the heat shield falls away, InSight will extend its legs, much like an airplane extends its wheels before touching down.

- At 1953 GMT, the first radar signal is expected, followed 20 second later by the spacecraft's separation from the back shell and parachute.

InSight's third investigation relies on the lander's radio system.

Today marks the end of a seven-month trip from Earth.

The InSight spacecraft, which took off from California almost six months ago, finally made its landing on the surface of Mars Monday.

The monitoring and adjustments to InSight's path will continue until the last minute. This equipment will help mission scientists map the Martian interior in unprecedented detail over the next two Earth years, revealing key insights about the formation and evolution of rocky planets, NASA officials have said. Only about 40 percent of the landers and rovers sent to the red planet during the last five decades have ever made it safely down to the surface, and of the worldwide space agencies that have tried, only NASA has succeeded in making a soft landing on Mars. Even when viewed from Earth without a telescope, Mars appears reddish in color as it hangs amid the stars - in fact, its bloody appearance inspired ancient astronomers to name the planet after the Roman god of war, according to NASA.

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