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InSight Spacecraft By NASA On Track To Land on Mars

The landing will kick off a two-year mission in which InSight will become the first spacecraft to study Mars' deep interior

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

NASA’s InSight spacecraft is on track for a soft touchdown on the surface of the Red Planet on November 26, scientists monitoring the health and trajectory of the lander have said.

InSight will hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at 19,800 kilometres per hour (kph) and slow down to eight kph — about human jogging speed — before its three legs touch down on Martian soil.

That extreme deceleration has to happen in just under seven minutes.

“There’s a reason engineers call landing on Mars ‘seven minutes of terror,'” Rob Grover, InSight’s entry, descent and landing (EDL) lead, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

“We can’t joystick the landing, so we have to rely on the commands we pre-programme into the spacecraft. We’ve spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings and studying all the conditions Mars can throw at us.

“And we’re going to stay vigilant till InSight settles into its home in the Elysium Planitia region,” Grover said.

NASA, tissue
Its data also will help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own. Flcikr

Launched on May 5, Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander marks NASA’s first Mars landing since the Curiosity rover in 2012.

The landing will kick off a two-year mission in which InSight will become the first spacecraft to study Mars’ deep interior.

Its data also will help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own.

About 80 live viewing events for the public to watch the InSight landing will take place around the world. It will be at 3 p.m. EST meaning 1.30 a.m. in India on November 27.

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People from around the world will be able to watch the event live on NASA Television, the agency’s website and social media platforms, including on YouTube.

“Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands,” said Lori Glaze, Acting Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA headquarters. (IANS)

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NASA’S Twins Study Claims, Long-term Spaceflight Not Linked to Major Health Risks

"It's almost as if the body's on high alert," said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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NASA
Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday. Pixabay

While it was previously thought that long duration spaceflight can affect the human body, even at the molecular level, new results from NASAs “Twins Study” has showed that there are no major warning signs and no reason to think humans cannot survive a two-and-a-half-year round-trip journey to Mars.

As part of the “Twins Study”, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while Mark, his identical twin, stayed on Earth as a control subject to look at the effects of space travel on the human body.

Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

NASA
According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern. Pixabay

These comparisons, however, has not raised any red flags about long-term spaceflight on the International Space Station (ISS), NASA officials were quoted as saying at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here.

“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The space sojourn also changed the activity of some of his genes.

“It’s mostly really good news,” Mason said, adding, “the body has extraordinary plasticity and adaptation to being in zero gravity, at least for a year”.

NASA
“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. Pixabay

According to Craig Kundrot, Director of NASA’s space life and physical sciences division, so far the space agency’s research found nothing that would make a Mars mission impossible.

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According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern.

However, Kundrot cautioned that the twin study has only two people as samples. “We don’t regard any of this as conclusive, but on the whole it’s encouraging,” he said, adding, “there are no new major warning signs”. (IANS)