The artistic vision of the NASA InSight landing gear on the surface of the Red Planet
A month later, Mars will greet a new cosmic guest who will try to study the structure of the planet. NASA's InSight landing ground is due to land north of the Martian equator on the afternoon of November 26, completing a 7-month flight. On May 5, InSight launched along with two tiny MarCO satellites on the Atlas-5 rocket.
The solar-powered spacecraft will enter the Martian atmosphere at a speed of 22,700 km / h, after which it will deploy a large parachute to slow the descent. When approaching the surface, it will jump out of the back "shell" and the parachute to land softly at the expense of 12 engines.
The landing will be performed on the equatorial plain of Elysium, distant 600 km from the crater Gale, where in August 2012 the Curiosity rover landed. This location was chosen for the sake of safety of the landing gear, since there are few stones and a lot of sunlight on the territory.
InSight will not study the features of the surface, because its main task is to use a set of seismometers to explore the internal structure and composition of the planet. In addition, a radio-scientific experiment is being prepared using communication tools. This process will track the tiny oscillations of the axis of rotation of Mars, revealing details of the size and composition of the core of the planet. The cost of the mission is $ 850 million. InSight should work for 2 years and help scientists better understand how rocky worlds are formed and developed.
The NASA InSight Landing Platform is to land on Mars on November 26, 2018. For this chosen plain Elysium (north of the Martian equator)
It is important to mention the twin satellites MarCo. In size, they resemble a small suitcase. Their main goal is to prove that small satellites can be used for serious studies of the solar system. One of them recently sent the first image of the Red Planet ever made by Cubesat technology.
Satellites will attempt to send data to the Earth from InSight during the landing period. But this is not their main task, but only a test, since the responsibilities lie on the MRO orbiter.