NASA's first mission to study Red Planet's interior lifts off early Saturday

WATCH Launch of NASA's In Sight Robotic Lander Bound for Mars

First, about the launch. The InSight mission is part of NASA's Discovery Program which is managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center situated in Huntsville, Alabama.

NASA aims to blast off its InSight payload from Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Base in California on Saturday May 5. Normally, interplanetary missions are launched from Florida, but due to some peculiar circumstances the site was moved to California.

NASA's next Mars explorer is going to have company all the way to the red planet: a couple of puny yet groundbreaking sidekicks.

This will be the first interplanetary mission ever launched from Vandenberg.

You can check out the embedded live stream above to watch the rocket launch as it unfolds.

InSight's launch period is from May 5 to June 8, 2018, with multiple launch opportunities across windows of approximately two hours every day.

Once launched, InSight will travel for about six months to get to Mars, and is scheduled to set down on the surface on November 26 assuming it launches tomorrow.

What is the objective of NASA's InSight Mars mission?

Yes, you read that right.

"Everything we're doing with InSight is trying to understand how Mars formed and evolved", said Mark Panning, co-investigator for the InSight mission. In particular, CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar Systems Research (MPS). It also will study how meteorites have impacted the planet. Go check it out. The modest-size lander (no rover on this one) will use a seismometer and a burrowing heat probe to study the interior of Mars, including the movement of its tectonic plates and how heat flows beneath the surface.

Once free from the rocket's upper stage following liftoff, WALL-E and EVE will trail a few thousand miles (kilometers) behind InSight en route to Mars.

How a spinning object precesses and nutates depends on the forces acting on it, and the structure of the object. This can be measured with extreme accuracy, though, by sending radio signals to Mars and having them reflected back using radio antennae.

"What we'll learn from the Mars quakes, of course, is the size of the core, the mantle, and the crust".

During a pre-launch briefing, First Lieutenant Kristina Williams of the 30th Space Wing, the Weather Officer for the launch, reckoned that there was an 80 per cent chance that the launch would be shrouded in fog, which would be disappointing for viewers but not a constraint for getting the rocket off the ground. Hopefully, in just a year or so, we'll find out.



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