NASA will soon launch its spacecraft to Mars, the InSight. NASA sure loves their acronyms, InSight is short for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport”. The craft was originally intended to be sent to the red planet in2016 but was postponed due to technical issues.
Once InSight has landed on Mars, it will start drilling five meter deep holes into the planet, then analyze its interior. This has never been done before. Bruce Banerdt at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been working on the InSight project for 25 years and he said in a press release:
“In some ways, InSight is like a scientific time machine that will bring back information about the earliest stages of Mars’ formation 4.5 billion years ago. It will help us learn how rocky bodies form, including Earth, its moon, and even planets in other solar systems.”
NASA is not alone in implementing the InSight mission. The trip also includes the French Center National d’Études Spatiales and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which has developed various instruments that InSight will use on Mars.
InSight is scheduled to launch on May 5th. Should NASA miss the time window, they will have to wait until June 2020 before trying again, when Mars and Earth are yet again in the right positions to make a trip to Mars much shorter. InSight is expected to land on Mars in November.