NASA’s InSight lander is preparing for its critical and dangerous entry and descent through the Martian atmosphere and anticipated gentle touchdown on Mars’ Elysium Planitia. The landing comes after a flawless six and a half month cruise through the interplanetary space between Earth and Mars and sets up what is hoped will be humanity’s first successful landing on Mars in over six years following 2012’s August landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover at Gale Crater.
Confirmation of landing is expected through the Deep Space Network at 15:01 EST (2001 UTC) on Monday, 26 November following the 7 minute descent and landing of InSight on the Martian surface – during which the science platform will slow itself from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to just 5 mph (8 kph).
The Martian Challenge:
From the 1600s to the 1960s, all the information humanity had on Mars came solely from ground-based telescopes – a feat in itself. But with the dawn of rocketry came a new means of exploring the tantalizing Red Planet that had for so long captured our imaginations and fancy.
Since the beginning of the space age, the exploration of Mars figured prominently in the space programs of the United States ...