Update 11/26/19 3:12 p.m. ET: NASA's InSight probe has landed successfully on Mars. It will still be a few hours until we learn if the probe is functioning properly and will be able to perform it's mission on the red planet. Still, NASA and other are celebrating the achievement. If you missed the landing, you can watch it in the video linked up top.
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InSight, a probe designed to study Mars’ mysterious interior, traveled 301,223,981 miles to the planet in 205 days. Now the Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), will have to successfully survive its 7-minute landing.
Should everything go according to plan, which we’ll know shortly after 3:00 p.m., InSight will be the first probe ever to drill into the Martian surface, according to Gizmodo. The spacecraft carrying the probe will have to withstand “seven minutes of terror” as it enters Martian atmosphere with temperatures increasing up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. After the probe deploys its parachutes, and uses its retro-rockets to slow the landing, InSight should arrive gracefully on the surface of a flat plain known as the Elysium Planitia.
This is NASA’s first landing on Mars since the Curiosity rover in 2012. It will spend the next two years studying the geological qualities of Mars, with three months of that time set aside to configure the probe’s instruments. It will be looking at Mars’ tectonic activity, heat flow, and other interior processes that helped the planet form. That is, if this landing goes well. Gizmodo points out the chance of a successful landing is a low 40 percent.
InSight is joined by two small satellites collectively called Mars Cube One, the first of their kind to be sent into deep space. They will monitor the landing and send data back to Earth.
If InSight successfully lands on the red planet, it will send a signal that it’s okay, which NASA will receive within eight minutes. According to The Verge, the probe’s solar panels must also be able to operate properly after landing in order for the mission to be dubbed a success.
Good luck InSight!