NASA’s InSight lands on Mars

Amirrah Watson | Staff Writer

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Image is pic of Mars taken by Insight on day 0 of its mission on the planet. Image (per NASA’s request) should be credited to NASA/JPL-CalTech

After 205 days, 7 hours, and 47 minutes from its launch at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, NASA’s InSight spacecraft has finally landed on Mars.

Formally named the NASA Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), the spacecraft launched from Lompoc, California, in May. InSight’s Nov. 26 landing is the eighth successful Mars landing for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, according to an Associated Press report.

NASA’s InSight Mission Overview webpage describes how scientists will use the InSight mission’s technology to investigate how rock-bodied—opposed to gas-filled—planets such as Mars and the Earth were formed. According to reports released by NASA, scientists would like to establish a better understanding of the deepest interior of Mars by monitoring its “vital signs, its pulse, and temperature” through seismic activity and heat flow.

When considering NASA’s Mars-centered missions, it is important to keep in mind local connections. Many researchers and scientists at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton participated in the ongoing mission of the Mars Exploration Rovers by designing the mission’s spacecraft.

This 2003 mission launched the two Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Both vehicles were designed to investigate the history of water on the planet.

The NASA Langley Research Center has also supported the Moon to Mars program, an ongoing 2017 proposal that allocates funds to NASA and select private corporations with the purpose of exploring the solar system and solidifying the United States as a world leader of space exploration.

Since the 1965 Mariner 4 mission, citizens, writers and scientists across the globe have considered the possibility of establishing habitable space colonies on Mars.

When a Hampton University student was asked what she thought about the citizens of Earth relocating to Mars in the future, Ashlei Biggers said that she does not believe relocating would solve any of our current problems, many of which humans would only “bring to another planet.” Biggers, a senior secondary education and mathematics focus major from Baltimore, also discussed the likelihood that Earth’s socioeconomic discrimination would accompany humanity to Mars.

But as billionaires and entrepreneurs become increasingly involved in spacecraft development and NASA missions such as InSight share new discoveries about Mars, the possibility of humans traveling to other planets begins to sound less like a matter of science fiction and more like a matter of scientific inevitability.

A video animation of the InSight landing, as well as mission updates can be found on the NASA website: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/news-and-events/news.

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