Watch NASA Attempt to Land a Spacecraft on Mars

Watch NASA Attempt to Land a Spacecraft on Mars

Watch NASA Attempt to Land a Spacecraft on Mars

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab near Los Angeles will be forced to wait eight minutes for confirmation of InSight's fate.

You can also follow InSight on Twitter as it lands, and in the next few days and weeks, as it starts conducting its investigation. It's hoped that a supersonic parachute, 12 descent engines, and some shock-absorbing legs will slow it down enough for a safe landing. Radio signals confirming the landing took more than eight minutes to cross the almost 100 million miles between Mars and Earth.

"Mars is hard", said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for the science mission directorate, on Sunday. It's a geophysical lander tasked with studying the deep interior of Mars and trying to understand the processes that formed the rocky planets of the interior solar system over four billion years ago. Up to now, the success rate at the red planet was only 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russian Federation and other countries since 1960.

The probe will burrow considerably deeper than the 2 metres planned for ESA's ExoMars rover (although the latter is a tad more mobile) and far more than previous NASA landers, which have mainly scratched at the surface.

More than half of all Mars missions have failed to arrive safely at the Red Planet over the years, so the InSight team is anxious about today's events.

The InSight lander aimed for a touchdown Monday afternoon, as anxiety built among those involved in the $1 billion worldwide effort. Of 45 missions, Nasa considers 18 to have been a complete success.

But on Tuesday afternoon, we may get the first image back from InSight of its new home on the surface of Mars. It marked the first time a Mars lander has ever been launched from the West Coast.

If all goes according to plan, InSight will hurtle through the top of the thin Martian atmosphere at 12 000 miles per hour (19 310 kilometers per hour).

NASA is attempting to land a spacecraft on the surface of Mars Monday to study the interior of the red planet.

This explains why the descent will prove to be nerve-racking minutes of terror for Nasa, because the mission managers will have little idea about how the spacecraft will be faring in real time, given the lag in receiving signals. "And certainly we're going to be using that technology to develop landers to return to the moon with humans first".

InSight is landing in what seems to bea very boring part of Mars, known as Elysium Planitia. The mission includes two small cube satellites trailing the probe, which are created to help relay real-time data from the craft back to earth, faster than a NASA satellite orbiting Mars could.

In October 2016, the European Space Agency lost its ExoMars Schiaparelli craft during an attempted Mars landing. It's also taking over NY with the landing set to be shown on big screens in Times Square. But InSight is expected to yield the first meaningful data on planetary seismic tremors beyond Earth. It will also slam a self-hammering heat flow probe about 16 feet into the Martian surface to take the planet's temperature.

The scientists will also use the lander's communications equipment to measure the wobble of Mars' axial tilt - information that will shed light on the size and nature of the planet's core.

- The orbital pattern of the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, flying overhead, means NASA won't know until 0135 GMT on Tuesday if InSight's solar arrays have deployed or not.

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