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InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), NASA's most recent probe to be released into space on May 5th 2018 at approximately 4:05 AM from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The probe reached Mars six months later on November 26th 2018 at 11:53 AM. The probe landed around Elysium Planitia, another name for Mars equator, and started searching for a location to drop its technology. Unlike other space probes, InSight is not set to explore possible sides of life or to return with samples from Mars. It is a mining spacecraft which will dig into Mars surface, 16ft to be exact.
Insights main design is to deploy a seismometer, a sensitive instrument designed for detecting "marsquakes" as well as a heat sensor. This will relay signals back to NASA on Mars geographic evolution, and future seismic activity. Both will be drilled and buried into Mars surface. InSight is set to return to Earth 60 days after exploration begins.
By having Mars geographic evolutionary history on paper, scientists will be able to map out Mars past. We will be able to see if Mars underwent a frozen age, quakes, solar storms, and possibly see how earth developed so differently over time.
Illustration of InSight Landing
Sun does not reach Mars as easily as it does Earth. Mars atmosphere is covered in thick layers of dust which makes it difficult for the rays to reach the surface. InSight was designed to function using solar rays, but so few rays are needed that only 700W, less than your microwave uses, were needed to power it for over 24 hours.
The atmosphere on Mars is harsh, windy and often reaches temperatures of -80 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface. It is 98 percent composed of carbon dioxide which would make any human, plant or animal life impossible. Since the atmosphere is only 1 percent that of Earths, if plants were able to survive on carbon dioxide alone they would be destroyed by the unfiltered sun rays that burn up any chance of survival on the surface.
NASAs 7 Minutes of Terror Landing
NASA remains to be the only organization to successfully land a seismometer probe on Mars, which is over 300 million miles away from Earth. This is due to the harsh atmospheric conditions and lack of current technology. It is only a matter of time before humans are able to travel successfully to Mars for additional studies.