At a speed of 19,800 kilometers per hour, the Mars InSight probe approaches Mars, where it has to arrive on Monday to begin its mission: to hear the earthquakes and to study the interior of the rock planet.
The ship must survive the difficult entry into the atmosphere of the red planet and the task of rapidly reducing the speed to 8 kilometers per hour.
The unmanned 993-million-dollar ship was launched almost seven months ago by the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and traveled about 482 million kilometers. Part of his mission is to inform about the efforts to send some human scouts to the red planet that Nasha hopes to achieve in 2030.
Mars landing is the first of 2012, when the explorer of Curiosity
NASA landed on the surface and analyzed the rocks for signs of life that could inhabit the planet to the Earth, which is now frozen and dry.
The entry, descent, and landing phase will begin this Monday at 19:47 GMT (2:47 am, Colombian time). In half-joking, in Nassa they refer at this point to "six and a half minutes of horror".
Its central instrument is a seismometer for earthquake detection, developed by the French Space Agency (CNES).
The six earthquake sensors on board are so sensitive that they have to reveal the smallest trembling of Mars, such as the weak attraction of their moon to Phobos, the impact of the meteor and the possible evidence of volcanic activity.
"This is the first mission to study the deep interior of Mars," said Fernando Abileira, deputy director of design and navigation at InSight. "By studying the distribution of the waves below Mars surface through its seismometer we will have more information on how the planet has evolved over the past 3000 million years" he added.
Seismology has taught mankind a lot about the formation of Earth about 4.5 billion years ago, but much of the Earth-based evidence has been lost with the recycling of the bark powered by the tectonic plate. This process does not exist on Mars.
The other tool that gains popularity is the DLR, built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which will be implanted in Martian soil at a depth of about 5 meters to offer the first accurate temperature measurement below the land of Mars, and the amount of heat coming from within.
The landing of InSight will be replaced by a parachute. The heat shield will help to slow down the ship and prevent friction at the entrance to the atmosphere of the red planet.
The landing area is a flat area called Elysium Planitia, which NASA called "Mars's largest parking lot."
NASA will know within a few minutes whether the landing has been successful or not, but will have to wait more than five hours to confirm the deployment of the equipment.
Of the 43 missions fired to Mars, only 18 have reached the red planet, with a success of about 40%, and all come from the United States. "Going to Mars is very, very difficult," said Thomas Zurbuheen, an associate administrator of the NASA's Scientific Missions Directorate.
"The extraordinary part is that we are building the successes of the best team ever on this planet – the NASA team with their performers and their collaborators," he added.
Other details about the probe
The name InSight comes from an "Inside Study Using Seismic Research, Geodesy and Heat Transfer". The spacecraft stops approximately one meter from the surface and, after untieing their solar panels, they will extend to almost 6 meters. With the full load of the fuel weighs more than 360 kg, almost the same as the Harley Davidson motorcycle.
AFP and EFE