Tiny satellites to assist NASA in monitoring InSight’s landing

24 November, 2018, 01:18 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting

As the space agency counts down the days until its arrival, here's everything you need to know about the lander and its mission.

While Earth's tectonics and other forces have erased most evidence of its early history, much of Mars - about one-third the size of Earth - is believed to have remained relatively static for more than 3 billion years, creating a geologic time machine for scientists.

On the NASA channel-stream from JPL procedures directly without video the landing, but with the audio of all commands and confirmations.

MarCO would also be the first CubeSats to travel this far from Earth.

At least five different kinds of rocks, including "clays and carbonates that have high potential to preserve signatures of past life", are believed to lie in the crater, just north of the Martian equator, the USA space agency said.

The crater was chosen after a five-year search that examined some 60 other sites on Mars.

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Apart from the two missions in 2020, there are no plans for the existing orbiters yet. But landing safely isn't a slam dunk: Scientists want to make sure the rover doesn't land in a boulder field, a sand trap or on the edge of a cliff. "This will bring new insights on Mars formation and evolution that remains largely unconstrained".

"But what was once out of reach is now conceivable, thanks to the 2020 engineering team and advances in Mars entry, descent and landing technologies".

'Landing on Mars is hard. The mission aims to study the interior of Mars by drilling down and taking samples of the rock and soil deep beneath the surface. Scientists and engineers are working hard on all the hardware that the rover will use to do its job, but up until today, NASA still hadn't actually decided where on the Red Planet the rover would land.

InSight stands to "revolutionise the way we think about the inside of the planet", said Nasa's science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen.

NASA's InSight spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on Mars next Monday, after a six-month, 300 million miles (480 million kilometers) journey. China is planning to get in on the action with its first-ever Mars mission, also due for launch during 2020's favorable launch opportunity.


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