Fear at NASA when Mars InSight spacecraft comes near Red Planet

The purpose of Mars Insight is to listen to earthquakes and tremors as a way to reveal the inner mysteries of the Red Planet, how it was formed billions of years ago, and by extension, how other rocky planets like the Earth took shape.

LOS ANGELES – NASA & # 39; s top scientists indulge in sleepless nights, sweaty hands, abdominal pain and moments of sheer fear, while their $ 993 million Mars Insight spacecraft is approaching a drama-final Monday: countries on Mars.

The purpose of Mars Insight is to listen to earthquakes and tremors as a way to reveal the inner mysteries of the Red Planet, how it was formed billions of years ago, and by extension, how other rocky planets like the Earth took shape.

The unmanned spacecraft was launched almost seven months ago and is the first to attempt to hit Nasa on the planet's near planet since the Curiosity rover arrived in 2012.

More than half of the 43 attempts to reach Mars with robbers, orbiters and probes by space agencies from around the world have failed.

VIEW: How will the InSight spacecraft from Nasa land on Mars?

NASA is the only space agency that created it and is investing in these robotic missions as a way to prepare for the first Mars-bound human explorers in the 2030s.

"We never take Mars for granted, Mars is difficult," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Assistant Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, on Sunday.


The high drama of the start, descent and landing phase starts at 11:47 AM in Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, home of mission control for Mars Insight.

A carefully orchestrated sequence – already fully pre-programmed on board the spacecraft – takes place over the course of the next few minutes, conceived for six and a half minutes of terror & # 39 ;.

Faster speed than a bullet at 12,300 mph, the heat-shielded spacecraft meets scorching friction as it enters the atmosphere of Mars.

The heat shield rises to a temperature of about 1500 Celsius. Radio signals can be briefly lost.

The heat shield is thrown away, the three landing legs are deployed and the parachute jumps out.

"We only liberate a little, which is an absolutely frightening thought for me," said Tom Hoffman, project manager at InSight.

But then the thrusters of the spacecraft start firing, causing the spacecraft of 800 kilos (365 kilograms) to be further delayed to a speed of about 8 km per hour when it reaches the surface.

Because there is no joystick back on earth for this spaceship and there is no way to intervene when something goes wrong, Hoffman described his emotions as mixed.

"At the same time I am completely comfortable and completely nervous," he said.

"We have done everything we can to ensure that we will be successful, but you just never know what will happen."

Image on current active satellites and robbers on and around planet Mars. InSight lander is scheduled to land on Mars on November 26th.

Hoffman, who is the father of a two- and four-year-old child, added that he "has not slept so great," although he said so because of his impetuous toddlers.

But when the first signal arrives GMT in 2001, hopefully it shows that the lander has put himself down, intact and upright, "I will completely unleash my inner four-year-old at that moment," he said.

Zurbuchen described InSight as "unique" because the medium-sized lander contained instruments that were contributed by various European space agencies.

The French Center National d '√Čtudes Spatiales (CNES) created the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, the most important element for observing earthquakes.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) supplied a self-lubricating mole that can dig fifteen feet (five meters) into the surface – beyond any instrument before it – to measure the heat flow.

The Centro de Astrobiologia in Spain has made the wind sensors of the spacecraft.

Other important contributions to the project came from the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland, the Swiss Institute of Technology in Switzerland and the Imperial College and the University of Oxford in Great Britain.

Together, these instruments will use physics to study geological processes, said Bruce Banerdt, the chief investigator of InSight at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

By listening to tremors on Mars, whether it is earthquakes, meteorological effects or even volcanic activity, scientists can learn more about the interior and reveal how the planet originated.

The goal is to map the inside of Mars in three dimensions, "so we understand the inside of Mars just as well as we have understood the outside of Mars," Banerdt told reporters.

Understanding how Mars formed itself could reveal more about the processes that formed the earth.

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