Monday, November 26, 2018 at 11:28AM
Drew Wolfe

Look Out Mars, Here Comes InSight

"Mars gets a new visitor from Earth on Monday. If all goes well, a NASA probe named InSight will land near the Martian equator shortly before 3 p.m. EST. Once it lands on Mars, it will stay put. InSight isn't a rover. Its mission is to stick to one place after it lands — and study the interior of Mars from the planet's surface."

"But before it can carry out that mission, it has to land safely. That means slowing down from 12,300 mph as it enters the top of the Martian atmosphere — to a complete stop on the ground six and a half minutes later."

"'The landing is all completely automatic and autonomous,' says Rob Grover, leader of the Entry, Descent and Landing team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. 'We have no ability to actually, kind of, fly the lander to the surface,' Grover says."

"The reason real-time control isn't possible is because it takes a radio signal approximately eight minutes to travel from Earth to Mars. Because the entire landing sequence only takes six and a half minutes, the lander would already be on the ground by the time a signal from Earth arrived."


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