Launched: May 5th, 2018. Estimated Landing: Nov. 26, 2018. Landing site: Elysium Planitia, Mars.

 

A grand sum of $814 million has been pumped into the InSight project for over 2 years. The insight programme is a Mars lander, sent out to give the red planet its first ever physical. It carries three instruments to study its most important vital signs and finally tell us just how Mars has been feeling for the past 4.5 billion years.

First it will check the planets mobility with the seismometer. This tech monitors and measures for ‘marsquakes’, layer thickness  and composition. Then it takes its internal body temperature by measuring the heat flow in the planets inertia, and finally we take a hammer to its knees with some precision tracking equipment to test its reflexes.

Each tool previously described in a visual representation of the lander on the job.
All the bells and whistles. Source: NASA

Like other Mars missions, Insight will parachute down to the landing site where it will set to work setting up the seismometer and hammering the 5m long heat probe into the ground, with its very thermally stable tungsten hammer. Exactly 30 days after this the lander will begin what NASA have termed, its ‘science activities’! (The best kind of activities). 

The point of all this is so that InSight can provide information into the planets geological history, its radioactive make up and its layer by layer composition so that we can establish how Mars lost its magnetic field and whether it once hosted plate tectonics like our own beloved planet.

with more and more people looking to the stars, industries, economies and of course science will climb higher and higher

This mission finally marks NASA’s return to planetary seismology after 4 decades, the geophysicists have been pushing for this type of mission just as long. It is Scientists’ hope that this mission will be a glimpse into the future of our own planet and will provide valuable information for actually going to Mars and living there.

The biggest changes that a planet can go through are driven almost entirely by the heat flow into and out of a planet to and from space, with the kind of information that is hoped for from this 2 year mission NASA should be able to tell us the safest, least radioactive and most hydrated place to set up camp.

And if you ask me, the sooner the better. Going off world and becoming interstellar is quickly becoming more and more plausible. As technology improves with more and more people looking to the stars, industries, economies and of course science will climb higher and higher along with it. I tend to agree with the late Professor Hawking.

“I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space.” – Stephen Hawking

If you would perhaps like to learn more about the big red why not read this article where Rhys Davies discusses the technology being developed for the possible manned mission to Mars

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