NASA is geared up for the launch of its upcoming Mars mission, InSight (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport). The launch is scheduled to take place on early Saturday, May 5, 2018, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
InSight will be launched on an Atlas V rocket, built by United Launch Alliance — a partnership between Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.
NASA’s rockets are typically launched from John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This will be the first time that InSight Mars Lander’s launch would take place from the US West Coast. The spacecraft is expected to land on Mars on Nov. 26. Its landing spot is Elysium Planitia.
The $1 billion U.S.-European mission’s chief scientist, Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that the lander’s instruments will allow scientists “to stare down deep into the planet.”
The InSight mission is reportedly the first dedicated to studying the innards of Mars. The lander has a slender probe that will burrow nearly five meters into the Martian soil. This will help the NASA scientists know about the thickness and composition of the planet’s crust, mantle, and core as well its temperature. The data will help scientists to figure out how the Red planet was formed 4.5 billion years ago and how it got evolved.
The InSight lander will also have a quake-measuring seismometer on board that will detect and record events such as marsquakes, landslides, meteor strikes, and dust storms taking place on the Red Planet.
NASA has confirmed that the launch would be visible to the naked eye in San Diego up all the way to Santa Maria if the weather conditions remain clear. The U.S. space agency will also live stream the InSight mission’s launch on Saturday on its official website.