NASA on May 5 blasted off its latest Mars lander, InSight, designed to perch on the surface and listen for “Marsquakes” ahead of eventual human missions to explore the Red Planet.
“Three, two, one, liftoff!” said a NASA commentator as the spacecraft launched on a dark, foggy morning atop an Atlas V rocket at 4.05 a.m. Pacific time (4.35 p.m. IST) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, marking NASA’s first interplanetary launch from the U.S. west coast.
The $993 million project purpose is to expand the information regards of interior conditions on Mars, inform efforts to dispatch human explorers there and clarify how rocky planets like the Earth formed billions of years ago. If all goes as planned, the lender should settle on the Red Planet on November 26. Its name, InSight, is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
NASA chief scientist Jim Green said experts already know that Mars has quakes, avalanches and meteor strikes. “But how quake-prone is Mars? That is fundamental information that we need to know as humans that explore Mars,” Mr Green said.