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Exploring Mars: NASA Launches InSight Spacecraft

NASA’s Mars InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) launched on May 5, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The mission is on a 300-million-mile (483-million-kilometer) trip to Mars to study for the first time what lies deep beneath the surface of the Red Planet.

NASA’s InSight Project is a 1 Billion dollar mission. The mission is an inter-continental marvel that involves scientists from the US, France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

The spacecraft will take more than six months to get to Mars and start its unprecedented geologic excavations, traveling 300 million miles to get there. InSight will dig deeper into Mars than ever before – nearly 16ft – to take the planet’s temperature. It will also attempt to make the first measurements of marsquakes, using a high-tech seismometer placed directly on the Martian surface.

NASA’s Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, The United States continues to lead the way to Mars with this next exciting mission to study the Red Planet’s core and geological processes. He also congratulated the teams behind the launch.

He said, “I want to congratulate all the teams from NASA and our international partners who completed this accomplishment possible. As we continue to gain momentum in our work to send astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars, missions like InSight are going to prove invaluable.”

NASA’s InSight team now is focusing on the six-month voyage. 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 correctly oriented, tracking its trajectory and performing maneuvers to keep it on course.

If all goes well,  the three-legged InSight will descend by parachute and engine firings onto a flat equatorial region of Mars – believed to be free of significant, potentially dangerous rocks – on 26 November. Once down, it will stay put, using a mechanical arm to place the science instruments on the surface.