The probe will attempt a landing on Monday, Nov. 26, at around 3pm ET (20:00 UTC).
When it lands six-and-half minutes later, it will be travelling a mere 8kmh.
But before it can carry out that mission, it has to land safely. That bottom is a crucial heat shield that is created to protect the probe as it passes through the thin Martian atmosphere. Once they finish relaying InSight's landing telemetry, their mission is over. The landing capsule has to batter its way through the atmosphere. Any shallower, and the probe will bounce off into deep space.
At 2:47 pm ET, the entry, descent and landing phase began, and InSight came blazing into the atmosphere at 12,300 miles per hour. Were the probe a 150-pound human, during the flaming descent, it would weigh almost a ton. Its 124km descent to the surface will be slowed by atmospheric friction, a giant parachute and retro rockets.
Explosives will eject the heat shield 15 seconds later, exposing the InSight probe hidden inside. Ten seconds after the heat shield falls away, the probe will extend its legs, much like an airplane extends its wheels before touching down. This is because the powered descent mode that InSight will employ has been tested before, a decade ago with the Phoenix lander.
"Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration", noted InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt. The entire landing sequence is all pre-programmed into the on-board flight computer.More news: Melania Trump promotes campaign with White House Christmas decorations
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The reason real-time control isn't possible is because it takes a radio signal approximately eight minutes to travel from Earth to Mars.
Ever since Nasa ended a run of unsuccessful missions in 1964 while anxious engineers munched on the snack, filling up the jar has been a key stage of each project. InSight will also send a "tone beacon" when it touches down on Mars, and again seven minutes later, but much more loudly.
And they are right to be anxious.
The term refers to the amount of time the lander will take to go from the edge of Mars' atmosphere to the planet floor. Eighteen have been successful.
Nearly half of the attempts to land on Mars fail. "And we're looking to take humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s".
The monitoring and adjustments to InSight's path will continue until the last minute. Such information will shed light on the size and nature of the planet's core. 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.
Now, here's the latest on InSight's progress as it approaches the surface of our neighboring planet. It is created to carry out its mission from a stationary position, and it is expected to land and set up shop in an area known as the Elysium Planitia, which JPL officials dubbed "the biggest parking lot on Mars", providing a flat solid surface for the craft to do its work.
There are many reasons this is interesting.