Anxiety abounds at NASA as InSight Mars Lander Reaches Mars Today
NASA’s InSight lander is set to land on Mars today(November 26) just before 3 p.m EST(2000 GMT), after about seven months of deep-space journey travelling more than 300 million miles(483 million kilometres).
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.
InSight could hand NASA its eighth win.
It’s shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas with few, if any, rocks. This is no rock-collecting expedition. Instead, the stationary 800-pound (360-kilogram) lander will use its 6-foot (1.8-meter) robotic arm to place a mechanical mole and seismometer on the ground.
The self-hammering mole will burrow 16 feet (5 meters) down to measure the planet’s internal heat, while the ultra-high-tech seismometer listens for possible marsquakes. Nothing like this has been attempted before at our smaller next-door neighbour, nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) away.