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After six months of travel, the NASA spacecraft will land on Mars on Monday



Los Angeles: NASA's first robotic landing designed to study the deep interior of a distant world approaching Mars on its way to a planned landing on Monday, after a six-month journey through space.

Traveling 548 million kilometers from Earth, the Mars InSight spacecraft had to reach its destination on the dusty surface of the Red planet at 8pm GMT).

The mission control team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), near Los Angeles, prepared to make a final adjustment to InSight's flight path on Sunday to maneuver the ship closer to its point of entry to Mars.

If everything goes according to plan, InSight will launch into the Martian pink sky almost 24 hours later, at 19,310 km / h. Its 124 km descent to the surface will be slowed down by atmospheric friction, a giant parachute and retro rockets. When he lands six and a half minutes later, he will travel at only 8 km / h.

The stationary probe, launched from California in May, will stop for 16 minutes for the dust to settle, literally, around the landing site before its solar panels are deployed in the form of a disk to provide power.

JPL engineers hope to obtain real-time electronic confirmation of the safe arrival of the spacecraft from miniature satellites that were launched along with InSight and will fly beyond Mars.

The JPL controllers also hope to receive a photograph of the probe's surroundings on the flat, flat Martian plain near the planet's equator called Elysium Planitia.

The site is approximately 600 km from the 2012 landing site of the Mars Rover Curiosity, the last spacecraft sent by NASA to Red Planet. The smallest InSight, of 360 kg, its name is the abbreviation of Inner exploration using seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport, marks the 21st Martian exploration launched by the USA. UU., Including Mariner's aviation missions of the 60s. Almost two dozen other missions to Mars have been sent from other nations.

How the rocky planets were formed

InSight is the first dedicated to unlock secrets from the depths of the Martian surface. The lander will spend 24 months, approximately one Martian year, using seismic monitoring and underground drilling to gather clues about how Mars was formed and, by extension, the origins of Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system more than four billion years. .

"What this helps us understand is how we got here," said Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of JPL's InSight, during a pre-landing briefing with reporters last week.

While Earth tectonics and other forces have erased most of the evidence from its early history, it is believed that much of Mars, about one-third the size of Earth, has remained largely static for eons, creating a geological time machine for scientists.

The main instrument of InSight is a high sensitivity seismometer built in France, designed to detect the milder vibrations of the "marsquakes" and the meteor impacts.

Scientists expect to see a dozen or 100 marsquakes in the course of the mission, producing data to help them deduce the size, density and composition of the planet.

The Viking probes of the mid-1970s were equipped with seismometers, but were screwed on top of the landing modules, a design that was largely ineffective.

InSight is also equipped with a German-made drill to dig up to 5 m underground, and behind it there is a thermal probe similar to a string for measuring heat.

Meanwhile, a radio transmitter will send signals to Earth, tracking the subtle rotation of Mars to reveal the size of the planet's core and, possibly, if it remains fused.

The InSight mission and the next rover, along with others in the planning stage, are seen as precursors to the eventual human exploration of Mars, NASA officials said.

Reuters


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