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Mar’s InSight Rover

Mars Rover

via NASA JPL

Mars Rover

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After traveling through space for over 7 months, NASA’s InSight Rover safely landed on the surface of Mars on Tuesday. Scientists will be assessing any damage to the rover in the upcoming days and it will be 6 months before the first scientific results from InSight will come in. NASA hopes that the InSight rover will give new information about the core of Mars, one of the parts of the red planet we know the least about. InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport will spend 2 years investigating the interior of Mars.

InSight launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5 and cruised over 300 million miles to reach Mars. It is the 8th rover to ever land on Mars successfully. Only 40% of landers sent to Mars manage to safely land on the planet, in part to the thin Martian atmosphere. In less than 7 minutes, InSight had to slow down from 13,500 miles per hour to 0. 20 minutes before landing, InSight separated itself from the cruise stage that brought it to Mars. Due to an 8 minute delay of any signals from Mars to Earth, making manual control of the rover impossible, the landing is completely autonomous. When InSight blasted into Martian atmosphere, its heat shield reached peak temperatures of over 2700 degrees Fahrenheit. 3 and a half minutes later, InSight was still traveling faster than the speed of sound and a special, supersonic parachute was deployed and it separated from its heat shield. InSight used radar to detect how far it was from the surface of Mars, detached from the parachute, and used retrorockets to slow InSight down and finish its final descent. After safely landing, InSight deployed its 7-foot solar arrays. Unlike previous missions to Mars, InSight will not move from its landing position. Instead, it will drill into Mars’s core to investigate seismic waves, heat from the planet, and its core.

For the first time, NASA used a new technology known as CubeSats. Previously, due to the position of satellites orbiting around Mars, it could be hours before scientists receive any news about the condition of the rover. With CubeSats, which are satellites about the size of a briefcase, NASA can hear from the InSight rover only minutes after landing. The CubeSats also transmitted back the first image from the InSight rover.

The InSight rover is NASA’s newest mission to Mars and will help pave the way for an eventual manned mission to Mars.

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Jason M., Co-Editor in Chief

Jason M. is currently an 8th grader at Kraemer Middle School and is taking newspaper, library aid, and ASB as his electives. He hopes to attend Valencia...

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