Investigating the Red Planet’s Interior Structure
The Mars Insight Lander touched down on Mars at around noon Pacific (3 p.m. Eastern) on Nov. 26, 2018. The lander plunged through the thin Martian atmosphere, heatshield first, and use a parachute to slow down. Then, it fired its retro rockets to slowly descend to the surface of Mars, and land on the smooth plains of Elysium Planitia
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.
Studying Mars’ interior structure answers key questions about the early formation of rocky planets in our inner solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – more than 4 billion years ago, as well as rocky exoplanets. InSight also measures tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars today.
Entry, Descent and Landing
The entry, descent, and landing (EDL) begins when the spacecraft reaches the Martian atmosphere, about 80 miles (about 128 kilometers) above the surface, and ends with the lander safe and sound on the surface of Mars six minutes later.
InSight landed on Mars at about noon Pacific (3 p.m. Eastern) on Nov. 26, 2018, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.
Off to Mars! Programming Ideas for the Insight Launch
On May 5, InSight will begin its six-month journey from the coast of California to the plains of Mars. Once it lands, it will use seismic instruments to explore the interior of Mars in ways that we’ve never “seen” before! Join the STAR Net team and guest presenter Steve Lee (Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Space Science Institute) to learn all about this exciting, innovative mission and fun ways to celebrate its launch and landing at your library!
Five Things to Know About the Landing
Every Mars landing is a knuckle-whitening feat of engineering. But each attempt has its own quirks based on where a spacecraft is going and what kind of science the mission intends to gather.
On Nov. 26, NASA will try to safely set a new spacecraft on Mars. InSight is a lander dedicated to studying the deep interior of the planet – the first mission ever to do so.
Here are a few things to know about InSight’s landing.