NASA launches InSight Spacecraft to study the Mars' deep interior

May 7, 2018 11:12 IST
NASA launches InSight Spacecraft to study the Mars' deep interior

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on May 5, 2018 launched the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Spacecraft to study the Mars’ deep interior.

The InSight Spacecraft was launched on the Atlas V rocket of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, marking NASA’s first interplanetary launch from the US West Coast.

Key instruments on board the InSight Spacecraft

Seismometer: The key instrument on board the InSight Spacecraft is a seismometer called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure made by the French Space Agency. Once the spacecraft settles on the Mars, a robotic arm will emerge and place the seismometer directly on the Martian ground.

Self-Hammering probe: Known as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, the self-hammering probe was made jointly by the German Space Agency and the Polish Space Agency. It will examine the flow of heat in the Mar’s subsurface.

Radio system: It is equipped with a radio system to track the spacecraft’s position and planet’s rotation, thereby, revealing the size and composition of Mars’ core.

InSight Spacecraft: Mission and Vision

• InSight, a Mars lander, has been designed to listen for “Marsquakes”, thus, directing the human missions to explore the Red Planet.

• The USD 993 million project aims to expand the human knowledge about interior conditions of the Mars and reveal how rocky planets like the Earth and the Moon formed billions years ago.

• This solar and battery-powered Mars lander will operate for 26 Earth months (one year on Mars) and will pick and study up as many as 100 Marsquakes, using a high-tech seismometer.

• The spacecraft will dig 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 metres) deep into the Mars, which is 15 times deeper than any previous Mars mission.

• The scientists expect that the spacecraft will provide a true 3D image of the interior of the Mars.

• It will enable the scientists to understand the temperature on the Mars, which is crucial for sending people there and will help them know that how much a human environment need to be heated under frigid conditions.

Organisations involved in construction and launch of the InSight Spacecraft



Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

Manages the InSight Spacecraft

Lockheed Martin Space in Denver

Built and tested the spacecraft

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington

France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales

Built the ultra-sensitive seismometer for detecting mars-quakes

German Aerospace Centre (DLR)

Developed a thermal probe that can go 16 feet underground and measure the heat flowing inside the planet

When is InSight expected to reach the Mars?

• The spacecraft is expected to settle on the Mars on November 26, 2018, after travelling around 300 million miles to get there.

• On reaching the Mars, InSight will become the first NASA spacecraft to land on Mars since the landing of the Curiosity rover in 2012.

The spacecraft was initially marked to be launched in 2016 but had to be delayed after temperature tests showed a problem with part of the seismometer, which has been fixed now.

NASA set to launch 'InSight' mission to study Mars’ deep interior


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