NASA launched InSight spacecraft to red planet to dig down deep and explore the mysterious insides of the red planet. The $1 billion mission involves scientists from the U.S., France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, the Associated Press reported.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to study the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. The spaceship launched at 7:05 a.m. EDT Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California instead of Florida’s Cape Canaveral making it the first interplanetary mission ever to depart from the West Coast.
After its six-month journey, InSight will descend to Mars to study the heart of the Red Planet, traveling 300 million miles (485 million kms) to get there. During the cruise phase of the mission, engineers will check out the spacecraft’s subsystems and science instruments, making sure its solar arrays and antenna are oriented properly, tracking its trajectory and performing manoeuvers to keep it on course, the US Space agency said.
According to the report, InSight will dig deeper into Mars than ever before nearly 16 feet, or 5 meters to take the planet’s temperature. It will also endeavour to create the first measurements of marsquakes (quakes), using a high-tech seismometer placed directly on the Martian surface.
“InSight will not only teach us about Mars, it will enhance our understanding of formation of other rocky worlds like Earth and the Moon, and thousands of planets around other stars,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at NASA's headquarters in Washington. "InSight connects science and technology with a diverse team of JPL-led international and commercial partners."
Similar views were expressed by JPL's Director Michael Watkins who said, “InSight will help us unlock the mysteries of Mars in a new way, by not just studying the surface of the planet, but by looking deep inside to help us learn about the earliest building blocks of the planet."
Previous missions to Mars investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil, but no one has attempted to investigate the planet's earliest evolution, which can only be found by looking far below the surface.
InSight is scheduled to land on the Red Planet around 3 p.m. EST Nov. 26, where it will conduct science operations until Nov. 24, 2020, which equates to one year and 40 days on Mars, or nearly two Earth years.