Nasa begins first ever exploration of Mars' interior

Nasa begins first ever exploration of Mars' interior

The lander will be carried aloft for NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) atop a two-stage, 19-story Atlas 5 rocket from the fleet of United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. "You have to look under the hood".

The Atlas V (five) rocket also holds a pair of mini satellites meant to trail the spacecraft all the way to Mars.

The rocket carrying a robotic probe called InSight - which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - achieved liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast shortly after 4 a.m. The launch was originally scheduled for two years ago, but they had to set it back at the cost of about $150 million. Whichever date the launch occurs, InSights landing on Mars is planned for November 26, 2018, around noon PST (3 p.m. EST). Mars formed at a similar time, relatively speaking, to Earth and learning more about the origins and interior of Mars will shed light on how our planet, and its moon, formed. The study of the Mars-quakes will help the astronomers to study the evolution of similar planets like Earth.

NASA's InSight underwent its final check before encapsulation and mating to a ULA Atlas V rocket.

Working with U.S. engineer Bruce Banerdt - who 15 years later would become the scientific director for InSight - he helped prepare instruments for the European NetLander mission, which sought to set up a network of four small stations on the surface of Mars, including a seismometer. The lander's instruments include a seismometer to detect marsquakes, and a probe that will monitor the flow of heat from the planet's interior.

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Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator on NASA's InSight mission, said the lander is bound to provide some surprises, NPR reported. The Doppler shift from a radio signal on the lander can reveal whether the planet's core is still molten; a self-burrowing probe is created to measure heat from the interior. The HP3 probe will drill 16 feet through the crust, send cable sensors down and take temperature readings to see how much heat is leaving the planet.

What do you call an quake when it happens on Mars?

Scientists at NASA say the lander will give the red planet a 4.5-billion-year-overdue "checkup". If the rocket can't be safely launched within that time period, a new window will open on Sunday. Mars missions fail about 50 percent of the time, in part thanks to an atmosphere that's too thin to slow down an incoming object, but thick enough to generate friction as the craft hurtles toward the ground. Mars will also be visible in the early morning sky.

The NASA's InSight is scheduled to leave at 11:05 UTC.