Getting a Mars mission flying requires a great many milestones.
The InSight mission aims to drop a lander the size of a garden table on to Elysium Planitia, a broad, flat and largely rockless lava plain on the Martian equator, from where it will become the first robotic probe to survey the centre of the red planet.
Since Earth and Mars are thought to have formed in a similar way, about 4.5 billion years ago, NASA hopes the mission will help understand how the planets formed and why are so different now.
Astronomers want to investigate the changes on the red planet.
"It's a lander, not a rover, and it will deploy a variety of instruments down onto the ground". A little over an hour later, at about 2:30 a.m. EDT the 260-foot-tall Mobile Service Tower which is a structure that protects the Atlas V launch vehicle as well as its InSight payload during vertical assembly, will initiate a 20-minute long, 250-foot roll away from the Atlas, while the launch window will open four hours and 25 minutes later.
All systems are now go for the Atlas V and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab is positive the rocket will blast off tomorrow.
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I am excited about weather instruments mounted on the lander deck.
InSight is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in on California's Central Coast as early as 4:05 a.m. One InSight instrument will dig 5 meters (16 feet) into the subsurface to measure heat from the interior. The U.S.is the only country to have successfully landed and operated spacecraft on Mars. Thus, scientists will be looking backward in time when they study Mars' frozen innards. Alas, currently, engine power, MarCO will not be enough to slow down the machine and allow it to land on the planet, so they will just observe how InSight lands on the planet. Two suitcase-size spacecraft will be launched on the same rocket.
Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator on the mission at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said he expects InSight to record at least a dozen, but perhaps 100, marsquakes of magnitude 3.5 or stronger over the two year mission.
Once launched, InSight will coast through space for about six months before arriving at Mars in November. "As soon as we're down we'll breathe more than a sigh of relief", he said. The launch is expected at around 7:00 am (11:00 GMT).
"Depending on where you are in Southern California you'll be able to see the space craft at various points along its ascent as it heads off on its way to Mars", Tom Hoffman, a project manager with NASA, said at a March news conference at JPL.
Combined with the seismometer's observations, the probe's data could help scientists understand where Mars sits on the evolutionary timeline of rocky planets.