Published: Sat, November 24, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

Nasa's InSight lander to study interior of Mars

Nasa's InSight lander to study interior of Mars

NASA announced a landing spot for its 2020 rover on Monday, an area called the Jezero Crater, according to an announcement from NASA.

Samples also will be taken to return to Earth.

Nasa wrote: "The landing will kick off a two-year mission in which InSight will become the first spacecraft to study Mars" deep interior. The landing site "offers geologically rich terrain with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years, and could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology", says NASA's Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, per National Geographic.

24 hours before the InSight's atmospheric entry, descent, and landing, the NASA team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will make their final correction maneuvers.

The $2.5 billion rover is planned to launch in July 2020, and land in February 2021.

Choosing a landing site this early permits the rover drivers and science tasks group to upgrade their plans for investigating Jezero Crater once the rover is securely on the ground.

NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting

The crater is made of numerous boulders and rocks to the east, cliffs to the west and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms, which are wind-derived ripples in sand that could trap a rover, in several locations, NASA explained. It is considered the largest parking lot in Mars.

The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered Mars 2020 rover is built on the same basic design as NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars' Gusev Crater for more than six years. It'll also have experiments to test technologies that future astronauts will need, such as producing oxygen from Mars' thin carbon-dioxide atmosphere, and the equipment that's needed to extract and store samples for future missions to pick up.

Named WALL-E and EVE after the main characters in the 2008 animated movie, the twin CubeSats will pass within a few thousand miles (kilometres) of Mars as the lander attempts its dicey touchdown.

Unlike the Curiosity and the Opportunity rovers sent as part of NASA's program to study the surface of the planet, the InSight's objective is to dig deep and listen for quakes. Only 40% of missions sent to the Red Planet by any agency have been successful.

Overcoming 485 million km, InSight will land in the volcanic area of the world, the Elysium highlands, which is located near the equator of Mars.

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