8 AMAZING Facts About NASA’s InSight Mars Mission
Date: 2019-01-17 15:15:01
Out of this world, amazing facts about NASA’s InSight Mars mission! From the high tech specs of the Mars-destined rocket to the breakdown of its 6-month trip through space
#8 Scientific Goals
In May of 2018, NASA launched a spacecraft to Mars with the mission to analyze and understand the origin of the planet and others like it. Equipped with top of the line technology, this vehicle was meant to deploy a robotic lander that would descend upon the surface of the red planet. Once there, scientists expect the lander to measure the rate of meteoric impacts and seismic activity on Mars, as well as determine details regarding the crust, mantle, and core of the planet. While sending a seismometer to space has previously turned out unsuccessful, this 830 million dollar project is expected to have worked out the kinks. Which is good news as it remains the starring tool of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport mission — better known as InSight.
#7 Spacecraft Specifications
Space missions like these require a complex shuttle broken down into separate stages and the InSight mission is no different. The rocket chosen to carry the lander to Mars was the Atlas V-401, a massive rocket built for interplanetary flight. When erected for launch, the rocket stands at an imposing 188 feet tall. When loaded down with all of the launch requirements, lander payload, and other equipment, this spacecraft weighs in at a staggering 730 thousand pounds. That’s three times the weight of a Blue Whale!
The first stage of the craft is the Atlas V Rocket, an element necessary for boosting and propelling the shuttle through the Earth’s atmosphere. The thrust of the launch powers up to 850,000 pounds of full throttle and will accelerate the spacecraft to an insane 10,000 miles per hour! The second stage of the Atlas V-401 rocket is referred to as Centaur and takes over once the spacecraft is ready to enter Earth’s low orbit. Referred to as the “brains” of the vehicle, Centaur has the capability to control it’s orientation precisely and as such plays an important role when entering and exiting Earth orbit and beginning the journey to Mars. Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen power the secondary engine which can thrust the remaining stages forth with about 101,820 newtons of force. It also plays a key role in the third stage thanks to a flight control computer on board granting it extreme precision. This final stage is called the payload fairing and is responsible for delivering the lander to the Mars surface. As such, it is the most important portion of the launch as it contains all the equipment necessary to conduct NASA’s intended research.