NASA’s InSight Probe Is Landing On Mars

NASA’s InSight spacecraft will land on Mars. The final seven minutes before touchdown, will decide if the Six months flight was worth it or not. The probe would complete the landing process all by itself, landing programs were fed in its system before it left earth.

The entire landing sequence will take about seven minutes to occur. A radio signal from Mars to Earth takes eight minutes and seven seconds. So the complete landing process will take place before we find out if it was successful or not.

Only 18 off the 43 attempts made by NASA were successful, mars is a graveyard of failed probes. So this mission is crucial for NASA.

The lander component of the probe will detach and head into the atmosphere. The lander component is conical, with a smooth and flat bottom. That bottom is a crucial heat shield that is designed to protect the probe as it passes through the thin Martian atmosphere.

The landing capsule will fly through the Martian air at an initial speed of 12,300 mph, and must hit the atmosphere at an angle of 12 degrees. If not the probe will bounce off into deep space or burn itself up.

The probe will be in Martian atmosphere for six minutes and 45 seconds before landing. During this phase it will experience acceleration 12 times that of the Earth’s gravity. The probe is just a 150-pound human, during the descent, it would weigh a ton.

About 210 seconds after the probe hits the atmosphere, a parachute will deploy, slowing down the probe. Fifteen seconds later explosives will blow up the heat shield, exposing the actual InSight probe. Ten seconds after the heat shield falls away the probe will extend its legs, like an airplane extends its wheels before touching down.

The probe will fall for an additional two minutes attached to the parachute and protected by its conical shell. 45 seconds before InSight lands, it will drop out of the shell and fall towards the surface. As it leaves the shell, its landing rockets will ignite.

The rockets will slow down the probe further and stop horizontal motion. 15 seconds before touchdown, the InSight probe will descend at a speed of 8 feet per second, before hopefully touching down gently on the Martian surface.

The InSight probe will not move around. Instead, it will stay put and tell us of the interior of Mars. It will emit radio waves that we can monitor on Earth. As the frequency of the radio waves change, we will be able to measure the degree to which Mars wobbles as it rotates. That will tell us something about the core of the planet too.

InSight will deploy a seismometers to listen for mars-quakes (just like earthquakes). It will dig below the planet’s surface, up to 5 meters (16 feet), using a jackhammer. This is basically to take reading of the planet’s inner temperature.

All this is done to determine how much heat mars is emitting, and how close the core is.

These results would give us insights into mars structure and surface. It would be help our for future explorations just like Elon Musk’s attempt to get to mars.