NASA is in the countdown to the landing Monday in Mars from the Mars InSight spacecraft. At a cost of $ 993 million, he is the first to "hear" earthquakes and study the inner workings of another rocky planet.
This unmanned spacecraft It was launched almost seven months ago and has covered about 482 million kilometers. Part of his mission is to report efforts to send human explorers to the red planet one day, something NASA hopes to accomplish in the 2030s.
InSight Animation, landing on Mars (AP)
The Mars InSight landing will be the first since 2012 when NASA's Curiosity rover landed on the surface and analyzed the rocks for signs of life on the planet near the now frozen and dry Earth.
To do so, it must survive the difficult entry into the atmosphere of the red planet, traveling at a speed of 19,800 kilometers per hour and rapidly reducing speed to only 8 kilometers per hour.
The entry, descent and landing phase will begin on Monday at 4:00 p.m. (Argentina time). Half jokingly, at NASA they refer to this stage as "six and a half minutes of terror"
Of the 43 missions launched on Mars, only 18 arrived on the red planet. This translates into a success rate of about 40%. All missions came from the United States. "Going to Mars is very, very difficult," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Directorate of Science Missions.
"The exciting part is that we are building the success of the best team that has ever landed on this planet, which is the NASA team with their contractors and their collaborators."
The name Mars InSight refers to "inner exploration" of Mars. (AP)
The name InSight derives from "Inner Exploration" because it will do seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport.
With full fuel load, the InSight weighs over 360 kg, almost the same as a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Its central instrument is an earthquake detection seismometer which was done by the French Space Agency (CNES).
"This is NASA's only mission conceived around a foreign instrument," Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of CNES, told AFP. For that reason, he added, "it is a fundamental mission for the United States, France" and to improve understanding of Mars.
Chart of the exploration mission of the InSight spacecraft launched by NASA, due to land on Mars on November 26 – AFP / AFP
The six earthquake sensors on board are so sensitive they should reveal the smallest tremors on Mars, such as the slight attraction of its moon Phobos, the impacts of meteors and possibly the evidence of volcanic activity.
Seismology taught mankind a lot about Earth's formation, about 4.5 billion years ago, but much of the earth-based evidence was lost with the recycling of the crust, propelled by plate tectonics. This process does not exist on Mars.
The spacecraft also has a probe that can dig to a depth of 3 to 5 meters to provide the first accurate measurement of ground temperatures on Mars and the amount of heat escaping from within.
The InSight landing will be cushioned by a parachute. Your heat shield will help slow the ship and protect it from the friction of entering the Mars atmosphere.
The landing site is a flat area called Elysium Planitia, which NASA dubbed "Mars' Largest Parking Lot".
NASA will know in minutes if the landing was successful or not, but will have to wait more than five hours to confirm the deployment of the equipment. That would be at 5 o'clock (Argentina time) on Monday.