Insight and its Interplanetary Launch from California
In just about three weeks on May 5th, NASA’s InSight mission will launch from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 3 north of Los Angeles. It’s the first-ever planetary launch from the west coast of the United States, bound for a region on Mars called Elysium Planitia. People living along the coast should have a gorgeous pre-dawn view of the launch.
If all goes well, the spacecraft will land on November 26, 2018. After post-landing testing, the spacecraft will begin a lengthy period studying Mars’s interior. The name “InSight” is an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, and its instruments will do experiments aimed at understanding the Red Planet’s seismic actions and how it transports heat from its core to the surface.
A few years ago, I saw a talk by a couple of scientists involved with the mission a couple of years ago, and they described the mission as being able to take the planet’s pulse and take its temperature. They showed a cool deployment animation that demonstrated how a probe will jab down into the surface once the spacecraft has landed.
The spacecraft will also deploy ...