NASA’s next mission to Mars is scheduled for launch Saturday morning, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The mission is known as InSight (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) and will blast off at 4:05 a.m. PT (7:05 a.m. ET) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
"InSight will be the first mission to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes, which are seismic events similar to earthquakes on Earth," according to the NASA.
"It will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet’s deep interior," the announcement continued. "The resulting insight into Mars’ formation will help us better understand how other rocky planets, including Earth, were and are created."
The team behind the mission also hope to determine the rate of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts. Part of NASA’s Discovery Program, InSight is the first planetary mission to take off from the west coast.
Along for the ride is a separate experiment known as Mars Cube One (MarCO), which consists of two miniaturised satellites built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Assuming the twin communicators reach Mars, they will monitor InSight for a period after landing.
"However, these CubeSat missions are not needed for InSight’s mission success," Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said in a statement. "They are a demonstration of potential future capability."
To date, more than 800 CubeSats have been launched. This marks the first test of the technology in deep space.
Once catapulted into the cosmos aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, InSight is expected to land on November 26. 2018 at Elysium Planitia, where it will spend 728 Earth days (708 Mars days) studying the celestial body.
Coverage of pre-launch and launch activities begin Thursday on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
You can check out the website for more details on the launch, here!