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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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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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spaceX
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

orbit
The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

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SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)