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LANDING ON THE RED PLANET

 

 

From 12,300 miles per hour to a complete stop in 6 and half minutes, that’s NASA’s task today as it attempts to land on Mars.

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WHAT’S HAPPENING?

  • Landing: InSight probe will land autonomously on Mars’ “biggest parking lot,” to not be disturbed.
  • Easier said then done: 9-month mission leads up to landing. Must hit at precise angle – or risks burning up or hurtling back into space.
  • ETA: 2:53pm ET Monday, includes 6 min communications delay from Mars to Earth (no real-time data.)
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WHY IT MATTERS

  • Only 40% of all Mars missions are successful & U.S. is only country to land on Mars successfully.
  • InSight probe isn’t a rover, will stay put & tunnel into Mars’ interior for 2 years – burrowing 16 feet deep to collect data on temperatures, water remains, earthquakes, etc.
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“Venus is hot enough to melt lead. Mercury has a sunbaked surface. Mars is pretty cold today. But Earth is a nice place to take a vacation, so we’d really like to know why one planet goes one way, another planet goes another way.”

Bruce Banerdt, lead InSight’s scientist, on why NASA hopes the data collected will show how rocky planets (like Earth) were created & why they turned out so different.
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If all goes to plan, InSight will be NASA's 8th landing on Mars with more expected, including humans traveling there as early as 2030's. But to prepare for a stay, astronauts will have to practice on the moon first. The last time that happened? 1972.

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