NASA is on a countdown to the Mars InSight probe, something that will happen next Monday. The cost of the probe was 993 million dollars and was the first to be able to listen to earthquakes and study the internal functions of other rocky planets.
The unmanned spacecraft was launched almost seven months ago and has traveled around 482 million kilometers.
Part of its mission is to send information to send human explorers one day to the red planet, something that NASA hopes to achieve in the 2030s.
The probe landing on Mars was the first since 2012, when NASA's Curiosity explorer landed on the surface and analyzed rocks for life signs that might have inhabited a planet next to Earth, now cold and dry.
InSight must survive the entry of a difficult red planetary atmosphere: at this time traveling at 19,800 kilometers per hour and one time inside it must be reduced rapidly to only 8 kilometers per hour.
NASA by ElPaisUy at Scribd
Entry, descent and landing phase will begin at 17:47 on Monday (local time). NASA alluded to that stage as "six and a half minutes of terror".
Of the 43 missions launched to Mars, only 18 have reached the red planet, the success rate is around 40%, and all are from the United States.
"Going to Mars is very, very difficult," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
The name InSight translates to "interior exploration" which refers to seismic, geodetic, and heat transport investigations.
With full fuel load, the InSight weighs more than 360 kg, almost the same as a Harley Davidson motorbike. If you spread your solar panels, you can measure almost 6 meters.
The main instrument is an earthquake detection seismometer made by the French Space Agency (CNES).
"This is the only NASA mission arranged around foreign-made instruments," Jean-Yves Le Gall, CNES president, told AFP.
Therefore, he added, "this is a fundamental mission for the United States and France," because it would enable Mars to be better understood.
The six earthquake sensors on the ship are so sensitive that they have to reveal the smallest tremors on Mars, such as the faint pull of their moon Phobos, the impact of meteors and perhaps evidence of volcanic activity.
The ship also has a self-pamming probe that allows excavation to a depth of between 3 and 5 meters, and will enable the realization of the first accurate measurements of underground temperatures on Mars and the amount of heat coming out of the interior
The InSight landing will be supported by a parachute that will allow the speed of the unmanned spacecraft to fall to 19,800 kph. A thermal shield will help slow down the ship and protect it against friction which will result in entry into the atmosphere of the red planet.
The landing site will be in a flat area called Elysium Planitia, which NASA describes as "the largest parking lot on Mars."
The US space agency will know within minutes whether the landing is successful or not, but must wait more than five hours to ensure that the unmanned spacecraft is able to deploy equipment without inconvenience.
They will look for signs of life on the red planet
NASA spacecraft, which will begin in 2020, will look for clues about whether there was ever life on Mars by analyzing the rocks of an ancient lake and delta, two geographical features that can maintain the signs of ancient organisms, reported a few days ago. the American space agency.
The ship will land in a crater with a diameter of 45 kilometers, which was once the home of a river, so that it can maintain signs of organic molecules and microbes, experts explained.