26 November: NASA will show the first Mars landing in six years

NASA shows the first Mars landing in six years
The InSight spacecraft approaches Mars in this artist's concept. ©NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today, NASA will show the first Mars landing in six years from the InSight spacecraft.

NASA TV will be broadcasting the first Mars landing in six years from 2pm US Eastern Time (ET).

According to NASA, “On Nov. 26, NASA’s InSight spacecraft will blaze through the Martian atmosphere and attempt to set a lander gently on the surface of the Red Planet in less time than it takes to hard-boil an egg. InSight’s entry, descent and landing (EDL) team, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, along with another part of the team at Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, have pre-programmed the spacecraft to perform a specific sequence of activities to make this possible.”

This illustration shows a simulated view of NASA’s InSight lander descending on its parachute toward the surface of Mars.

Increasing knowledge using the Mars landing

Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said: “We’ve studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry. Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbour as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system.”

NASA’s InSight team will be monitoring the Mars lander’s radio signals using various spacecrafts and radio telescopes.

Some of the technology being used to monitor the InSight spacecraft is experimental, however NASA are hoping that an image of the Martian surface might be coming back to Earth following the InSight landing.

This image depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA’s InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere.

Tom Hoffman of JPL, InSight’s project manager, added:”Landing on Mars is difficult and takes a lot of personal sacrifices, such as missing the traditional Thanksgiving [to prepare], but making InSight successful is well worth the extraordinary effort.”

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