On 5 May, NASA plans to launch its US$994-million InSight spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
“There is an 80 percent chance you will not be able to see the rocket launch at liftoff”.
Prof. Catherine Johnson and an global NASA team have been working for close to a decade on what would be the first interplanetary launch from the U.S. West Coast. InSights Atlas will reach orbit about 13 minutes after launch, when the rocket is about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) northwest of Isabella Island, Ecuador. But it will also be accompanied by two small escorts that NASA hopes will one day allow us to explore deep space on the cheap.
Saturday’s tour of JPL was one ofseveral stops the vice president made to the Southland – the region in California between Los Angeles and the U.S. -Mexico border – over the weekend, according to NBC San Diego.
Though the climatic conditions prevailing on an ancient Mars have been a subject of long debate, a recent study published in Nature Geoscience suggested volcanic activity on the planet might have kept it modestly warm and prone to occasional rain even when it didn’t receive enough solar energy.
Coming up early on Saturday morning, May 5, is the first launch of an interplanetary mission from Vandenberg – NASA’s InSight mission to Mars to gather information on the interior of the red planet and the wobble of its rotational axis.
It’s an epic trip that will take upward of six months (the craft is scheduled to land on November 26) and cost $814 million.
The spacecraft’s main instrument is a seismometer that’s created to detect the deep rumblings of the Red Planet, due to earthquakes as well as meteorite strikes.
Understanding how much heat is flowing out of the deep interior of the planet, is the job of the heat probe HP, while RISE will help scientists work out how the deep interior structure affects the planet’s motion around the Sun. But as Insight’s principal investigator William “Bruce” Banerdt sees it, that’s just scratching the surface.
“During the original 2016 launch window, it was a very busy time in the schedule for ULA”, Scott Messer, the ULA program manager for NASA missions, told UPI.
The lander’s second instrument, a heat probe, will be hammered into Mars’ crust.
“It does so by measuring the planet’s “vital signs”: its “pulse” (seismology), “temperature” (heat flow), and “reflexes” (precision tracking)”. “If it happened on Mars, too, then I think those are the key places to look”. Should they make it, they’ll relay landing data back from InSight, functioning much like the so-called black boxes in airplanes.
Have Scientists Ever Attempted to Measure “Marsquakes”?
“We did a complete review of our heat shield documentation”, Banerdt said in an interview with Spaceflight Now.
“What we’ll learn from the Mars quakes, of course, is the size of the core, the mantle, and the crust”.
Marsquakes could teach scientists a great deal about Mars’ interior, how it formed, and what kind of changes it has incurred throughout its geological history. “This is the first time we’ll be able to answer this question with measurements”.
One of the scientists on the team that built the seismometers wrote an article about them that’s fun to read; he talks about some issues they had just a few weeks ago that threatened the launch! “How quake-prone is Mars?”
“It’s very important that every mission we send to Mars discovers something slightly unusual”.
It turns out that these twin cubes are equipped with the same type of cold gas propulsion system used in fire extinguishers to spray foam.