NASA's first mission to study Red Planet's interior lifts off early Saturday

NASA's first mission to study Red Planet's interior lifts off early Saturday

InSight will become the first interplanetary spacecraft to be launched from the West Coast. Only Earth has been studied in any detail. "Eventually Earth's convection will slow, so the InSight mission can help us predict what the future for Earth's interior looks like". Mars-friendly launch windows are produced only every two years. It also will study how meteorites have impacted the planet.

The patterns of different seismic waves can reveal details about Mars' insides.

"The InSight mission will provide glimpses into the evolutionary processes of all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system", according to the website. The lander will be equipped with a seismometer intended for the detection of Marsquakes and a self-hammering probe destined to monitor the heat flow coming from the planet's interior. And, these differences could help scientists better understand about the evolution of our planet.

Because Earth is bigger and hotter, its core heat still drives convection, powering tectonic and magmatic activity. As planets age, their innards generally cool-but a few elements, like uranium and potassium, release small amounts of heat as they radioactively decay over time. They won't stop at Mars, just fly past.

Landing on Mars with a spacecraft that's not much bigger than a couple of office desks is "a hugely hard task, and every time we do it, we're on pins and needles", Banerdt said. "We're going to measures Mars' quakes", said Green. The actual launch of InSight also may be viewed online.

NASA's InSight probe will commemorate a handful of firsts.

Like the Mars landers that came before, including the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, InSight will be launched by a United Launch Alliance rocket. It's the first planetary mission to launch from the edge of the Pacific.

Originally scheduled for 2016, the discovery of several flaws in one of the instruments forced NASA to postpone the mission. Until now, the hundreds of CubeSats have been confined to Earth orbit.

Nasa hopes to gather information on 100 Mars-quakes over the two-year mission.

The 358kg lander features a robot arm measuring 2.4 metres, which scientists will use to position instruments on the surface, and solar panels able to generate 600 - 700 watts.

"You get a lighter spacecraft and lighter vehicle, you can go faster and farther", Messer said. This will be the first deep-space testing of CubeSat technology. The InSight will send a hammer drill to penetrate beneath the Mars surface. "We have a process we go through to ensure they don't cause any problems for the primary spacecraft".

NASA aims to blast off its InSight payload from Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Base in California on Saturday May 5. At the moment, NASA is only predicting a 20 percent chance that the weather will be favorable for launch, due to expected fog in the area.

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