After traveling six months and millions & # 39; kilometers, landing & # 39; NASA Mars Insight is days & # 39; away from its final destination.
The spacecraft & # 39; & # 39 tall one; 358 kilograms unloaded on the Red Planet on Monday in & # 39; 3 p.m. ET. It is sure to be the nail biting experience for hundreds & # 39; people who worked on the mission.
It is easy to imagine the concern that engineers will face during the descent & # 39; six and a half Martian surface: from all missions Planet Red, 40 percent only had success.
"We all get butterflies when we think about the spacecraft actually landing," said Catherine Johnson, a professor at the University & # 39; British Columbia, which is co-international team investigator will measure seismic activity in & # 39; tightly using Insight.
The chief engineer of & # 39; the Insight Rob Manning explains what needs to go right:
BRate & # 39; success was improved. The twin rovers of & # 39; NASA, Spirit and Opportunity, launched in 2004, have been going their original mission & # 39; 90 Martian days, or SOLS. The spirit lasted 11 years. Opportunity is silent after a dust storm & # 39; month, but not technically dead.
Then there Curiosity, launched in 2011. Ongoing b & # 39; her health.
The site & # 39; landing is "really boring and really safe"
Upon reaching Mars, Insight will have traveled nearly 500 million kilometers, because it was a direct trip. Inside protective coating, will enter a & # 39; Marciana thin atmosphere & # 39; about 19,800 km / h. Propelling device will use the stream of parachute and fires, allowing – hopefully – touch slow on his feet.
The spacecraft will drop in the region & # 39; the Elysium Planitia, near the equator of the Earth, just 550 kilometers from Curiosity.
While the airspace dropped by & # 39; safe way recently, this particular location is a bit of & # 39; challenge: is f & # 39; higher altitude, which means that the spacecraft can not use both thin atmosphere & # 39; Mars fails.
So why pick that place?
"Mostly because it is really, really boring and really safe," said Johnson.
flat area without rocks is the most appropriate for this geological mission where instruments can be easily used. If it was a place of rocks, the seismometers and drill, also known as The Mole, can not do their jobs.
Insight is the first geological mission to the Red Planet. Over two years, using the & # 39; instruments ranging, will measure seismic activity, or Marsquakes, as well as negligible magnetic field of the Earth. It will also take the internal temperature of & # 39; Mars.
"For those of us who really study the interior of planets, this is really very important" mission, said Johnson. "We wanted to go to Mars for decades & # 39; years now, so it is really exciting to be almost there."
The objectives of the mission will help scientists to understand Mars and planet formation, helping to pave the way to know what can & # 39; lead to human missions.
Orbiters can listen
During the descent, Insight will send signals to the orbiter Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) orbitanti NASA and transmits the date is in the World & # 39; position to receive signals.
There is also the possibility that two CubeSats, small orbitaturi the breadbox-size, the first of their kind to make interplanetarju trip, they are listening. Mars One Cube – actually two satellites – can be in & # 39; able to receive a signal and relay it to Earth immediately.
Back on Earth, two radio telescopes will listen lamp will tell operators Insight reached the surface b & # 39; safe way.
"We will be very glad when we have another small sound vacate says," Yes, we are here ", said Johnson.
See NASA stuff about landing on CBC News beginning at & # 39; 2 p.m. ET. Monday.