Governor Declares 'Space Day' in California Ahead of Mars Launch

Governor Declares 'Space Day' in California Ahead of Mars Launch

Governor Declares 'Space Day' in California Ahead of Mars Launch

They also stopped by the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, where the Mars 2020 rover is now being put together.

InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a remote controlled Mars lander created to dig into the planet.

InSight will lift off at 1105 UTC and is meant to be the first mission to peer beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet's interior by measuring its heat output and listening for mars-quakes - seismic events similar to earthquakes on Earth. And to check its reflexes, scientists will track the wobbly rotation of Mars on its axis to better understand the size and makeup of its core. InSight is actually two years late flying because of problems with the French-supplied seismometer system that had to be fixed. It is the successor of the NASA's Phoenix Lander, which about a decade ago spent a successful week at the Mars.

This weekend, NASA is launching a machine created to study Mars at a much more fundamental level, helping to fill large gaps in scientists' understanding of the planet's geologic structure, composition and seismic activity. Those CubeSats will make the somewhat shorter journey to lunar orbit, but they'll be doing real scientific observing when they get there. It's scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, May 5, 2018, at 11:05 UTC.

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JPL manages InSight for NASAs Science Mission Directorate.

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.

Instruments onboard the lander include the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) provided by the French Space Agency and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) provided by the German Space Agency. The InSight will send a hammer drill to penetrate beneath the Mars surface. The Martian atmosphere and magnetic field also have been examined in detail over the decades.

“For those Southern Californians who are interested in rockets or space exploration, or have insomnia, we hope to put on a great show this Saturday, ” said Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager from NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. InSight will land just over the equator, about 340 miles north of the Curiosity rover. Banerdt jokingly calls it "the biggest parking lot on Mars". The MarCO twins' job will be to listen to InSight during its entry and landing, then relay the data back to Earth.The veteran Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will also be listening, so technically the mission doesn't need MarCO. One mystery is why Mars, a planet less dense and half the width of Earth, did not grow any larger.

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