The InSight spacecraft is ready for launch from the California coast on May 5, from where it will head to the Red Planet. This will be the first mission specifically designed to study the interior of Mars, including Marsquakes. Researchers hope this investigation will help them better understand how the inner planets of our solar system, including Earth, formed over four billion years ago.
The InSight mission will launch aboard an Atlas Five rocket, headed for the Elysium Plantia region in the northern hemisphere of Mars. The name of the spacecraft is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
Weather permitting, millions of people in California and northern Mexico may be able to watch the launch.
“If you live in Southern California and the weather is right, you’ll probably have a better view of the launch than I will. I’ll be stuck inside a control room looking at monitors — which is not the best way to enjoy an Atlas 5 on its way to Mars,” said Tom Hoffman, project manager for NASA’s InSight mission.
Since the observatory will be measuring quakes on Mars and recording climate, it will stay in one place after it lands, rather than roving around the surface of Mars.
This will be the first time a spacecraft, headed for another planet, has launched from the Pacific coast of The United States. Currently, landing on Mars is scheduled for November 26, 2018.