By: Nick Swafford
Project InSight has touched down on Mars. On Monday, November 26th at 2:54 pm ET, the InSight lander made contact with Martian soil and began to set up shop. The lander will begin sending information back to NASA as soon as possible about all about the inner-workings of the planet itself, which you can read more about in my other article at https://heritageherald.com/2018/06/09/insight-on-mars-interior/.
After being launched into space in early May, InSight spent seven months traveling to Mars and covering over 301 million miles until it reached its landing destination. The landing itself was completely self-guided with very little interference from NASA, but that didn’t stop the engineers of the project from having the most stressful seven minutes of their lives as they watched InSight lower itself onto Mars’ surface. The lander reached Mars’ atmosphere at a blistering speed of 12,300 miles per hour, and through a series of six stages, it slowed to five-miles-per-hour—just in time for touchdown. The lander had reached a high of 2,700 degrees fahrenheit on its way towards the surface. The people at NASA don’t call it the “seven minutes of terror” for nothing; if one thing went wrong, then the 830 million dollars that were spent on it would’ve been all for nothing.
A space thingy landed on Mars. You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal?” or “How does this affect me?” Well, my friend, what happens on this mission will impact your entire life. Okay, not really—it won’t change anything in your daily life. It does, however, brings us one step closer to understanding what makes Mars so different from Earth, and from that information, we can learn what kind of adversities we will face when we finally do make human contact with the Red Planet. This mission is specifically designed to document the inner-workings of the planet, including seismic activity and weather, which will be used to determine how the planet formed, how it functions, and further research on what Mars’ history looks like.
As the lander begins to set itself into the martian soil and gets ready for the two years that it will be active, NASA scientists are receiving no relief until the lander drills into the surface of Mars and officially starts sending data back to Earth. There is nothing to do besides wait and see what kind of data begins rolling in, so if you are interested in this particular project, go to NASA’s official site for Project InSight: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/.