NASA’s InSight spacecraft all set to land on Mars
NASA’s Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft is all set to land on Mars on November 26.
The InSight spacecraft is a first outer space robotic explorer that will study the crust, mantle, and core of the fourth planet in our solar system. The spacecraft was launched on May 5 this year from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has undertaken a six-month cruise from Earth to Mars ever since.
In a statement, NASA said, “The first time, it will communicate with a tone beacon that the radio telescopes will try to detect. The second time, it will send a ‘beep’ from its more powerful X-band antenna, which should now be pointed at Earth.”
“This beep includes slightly more information and is only heard if the spacecraft is in a healthy, functioning state. If NASA’s Deep Space Network picks up this beep, it’s a good sign that InSight survived the landing,” USA’s space organisation highlighted.
The InSight spacecraft is equipped with two cameras, a 5 feet 9 inches long robotic arm and other instruments which will help scientists in undertaking an in-depth study into the processes that shaped rocky planets of the inner solar system, including Mercury, Venus, and Earth, more than four billion years ago.
Two briefcase-sized spacecraft, MarCOs, are flying behind InSight and will attempt to relay its signals and transmit the entire entry, descent and landing (EDL) of NASA’s latest lander. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will also record InSight’s data during descent, besides the MarCO CubeSats.
The organistaion’s 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft will play a pivotal role in transmitting InSight’s information during surface operations along with the MRO, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) and the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter.
Odyssey will also relay data after the lander has touched down and confirm if the solar arrays have been fully deployed. France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting NASA’s InSight mission, amongst other organisations.
Importantly, the landing of InSight spacecraft will be streamed on NASA’s website, Television and social media platforms including YouTube.