The space agency’s latest lander – known as InSight – will plunge by the Martian atmosphere and touch down on the Red Planet’s surface today.
It marks the main moment for Nasa, which hasn’t sent anything new to Mars for a full six years. The new lander will be a major addition to the space agency’s presence on the surface – which is diminished after the Opportunity rover stopped responding to mission control recently, leaving its engineers fearing it had died in a dust storm.
The InSight rover’s mission, from which it gets its name, is to offer an unprecedented insight not just at the Martian surface but what lies under it. Utilizing a variety of instruments, it will delve into the inside of the Mars surface, burying underneath.
As it does, it will send back information about what the planet looks like underneath that famous, dusty red surface. Scientists hope to learn about not only Mars itself but also about other rocky planets in our own solar system – comprising Earth.
That descent is not guaranteed and comes major concern and upset about the future of the Opportunity rover. There has been the number of failed missions to Mars: from the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander, which smashed into the surface in 2016 at such speed it could not have survived, all the way back to the original Soviet missions in the 1970s which regularly failed.
his time around, we’ll get to know if it’s successful straight away. That’s thanks to two little flying robots known as CubeSats – named WALL-E and EVE after the main lead in the 2008 animated film – which went to Mars on the same rocket that is carrying the new lander and will fly past the Red Planet, relaying messages about its progress to ground controllers nearly 100 million miles away.
Once the lander arrives on Mars, it will sit stationary and begin its work, looking deep underneath the surface for clues about what is going on there. Utilizing seismometers to measure the movement of the ground, and a heat probe to take its temperature, scientists will get their first look at what is happening deep in Mars – and hopefully, give some clues about how it formed and more.