NASA’s Insight lander is now on its way to Mars, where it’ll land in November 2018 for a unique mission: study the interior of the Red Planet. Hopefully, it’ll glean new insights into what Mars might been like when it was younger, and give us an idea of how other rocky planets might have formed.
The lander was originally scheduled to launch in 2016, but was delayed until May 2018. Once it lands, it will measure marsquakes — rumblings in the planet’s crust caused by contractions as the planet cools. This data will tell us quite a bit more about the composition of the planet, and could give us a good idea of what the planet might have looked like when it was younger.
It’s accompanied by a pair of small satellites — MarCO-A and MarCO-B — which will serve as an experimental communications-relay network for InSight when it lands later this year. They’ll attempt to send information to NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is already in orbit around the planet, which in turn will relay the information to Earth.
That’s eight Mars landings and counting for NASA
A lot of people and spacecraft will be watching
Going from more than 12,000 miles per hour to zero without breaking apart
Or... not watch
Plus, two interplanetary CubeSats are going along for the ride
InSight is getting details on the Red Planet’s insides
How to get a lander from Colorado to California
It's not dead yet
NASA is readying the InSight lander for launch in 2016 that will measure geologic data from below the surface of Mars so that scientists can better understand the origins of our solar system's planets.