InSight rover successfully lands on Mars
On Nov. 26, 2018, the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport rover (InSight for short) finally completed its arduous 300 million mile-long journey to Mars.
The InSight project has been in the works for nearly a decade now. Proposals for the expedition were pitched in 2010 with the goal of studying the deep interior of the planet, as well as hopefully providing insight into the formation of Mars and other rocky, terrestrial planets, such as Earth, Venus and Mercury.
This mission in particular was quite challenging, as one might expect, due to a combination of landing the rover safely against Mars' strong gravitational pull, as well as the harsh atmosphere (not to mention the time and money it would take to rebuild if things went awry. InSight came in at a whopping $850 million.) Luckily, the rover landed successfully on the Red Planet and can now begin exploration.
InSight's project manager, Tom Hoffman, said, “The hairs on the back of my neck would start rising a little bit higher, a little bit higher. And then when we finally got the confirmation of touchdown, it was completely amazing. The whole room went crazy. My inner four-year-old came out."
The InSight team will spend the next two Earth years (about the length of one Mars year) studying the planet's interior using seismometers, to record any possible Mars-quakes, and heat probes to determine the planet's underground temperatures.
InSight is currently the second rover to ever land on Mars. Curiosity - the most technologically advanced robot ever built - has been roaming the surface of the Red Planet since August 2012 in hopes of finding evidence of potential life.
To date, no microbial life has been found; however, Curiosity has revealed what could be classified as an ancient streambed where water could have once flowed. In addition, key chemical elements that are essential for life on Earth were discovered in rocks. With this evidence, the Curiosity team announced that the rover's landing site could have once potentially supported microbial life.