How Will NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Land on Mars Nov. 26? JPL Chief Engineer Rob Manning Explains: Video

Video Caption: When
NASA’s InSight descends to the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018, it’s guaranteed to
be a white-knuckle event. Rob Manning, chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, explains the critical steps that must happen in perfect sequence to
get NASA’s InSight robotic lander safely to the surface on Nov. 26, 2018.
Credit: NASA JPL

Ken
Kremer 
SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM –24
November 2018



CAPE CANAVERAL,
FL
 The excitement is building as its now just
over 1 day until NASA’s next Mars mission, the InSight lander, is scheduled to
arrive after a 7 month interplanetary journey and hit the planet’s thin atmosphere
on Monday afternoon, Nov. 26, for a bail-biting descent landing on the Red Planet’s
surface.



Thus starts the harrowing
process known as EDL or Entry, Descent and Landing or
more popularly as the ‘7 minutes of Terror’  ultimately leading to a hoped for soft touchdown
at Elysium Planitia – a
sandy, flat plain
on the Red Planet around 2:54  p.m. EDT, 11:54 a.m. PST. See graphics below.



The $830 Million spacecraft is on
course to study Mars deep interior and Marsquakes for the first time in human
history to elucidate how it evolved over 4.5 Billions years.  That history has been
erased by natural progression and evolution on and inside Earth including
plate tectonics
and erosion of our planet’s crust.
 



On Monday, the United States will land on
Mars for the eighth time in human history,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim
Bridenstine.



To explain those thousands
of critical ‘do or die’ EDL actions in detail, NASA released an exciting and fact
filled new video – see above –  featuring
well known Mars Engineer Rob Manning  of
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. 
JPL manages the InSight mission for NASA. 



Watch the video: 
https://youtu.be/kyD0q57zw40


“When NASA’s
InSight descends to the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018, it’s guaranteed to be a
white-knuckle event. Rob Manning, chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, explains the critical steps that must happen in perfect sequence to
get the robotic lander safely to the surface.” – NASA JPL



Manning has worked on
all of NASA’s Mars landers and rovers for more than 20 years going back to Mars
Pathfinder. 



InSight is NASA’s
first mission to Mars surface in 6 years since the Curiosity rover safely touched
down by the skycrane maneuver in 2012 – to begin a minimum 2 year long mission to
study the heart of Mars and elucidate the deep interior of the Red Planet like never
before. 

NASA Insight plunges through the thin atmosphere of the Red
Planet during harrowing Entry, Descent and Landing on Nov. 26, 2018. Credit:
NASA JPL.

“Going to space always
carries risk. Its never easy, “said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator
of NASA Science Mission Directorate, at NASA HQ Washington, D.C.  



“The amazing InSight
vehicle is ready to land and change our perception of Mars.”



Only 40 percent of Earth’s mission to Mars have succeeded. 


“The goal of InSight is nothing less than to
better understand the birth of the Earth, the birth of the planet we live on,
and we’re going to do that by going to Mars,” said InSight Principal
Investigator Bruce Banerdt, of
NASA’s
Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 
“The landing kicks off a two-year mission for
our
@NASAInSight spacecraft to study Mars’ deep interior,” the NASA InSight
team tweeted.


NASA’s
Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport
(InSight) Mars mission launched on a
United Launch
Alliance Atlas V rocket in the dead of night
at 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 am PDT) May 5, 2018 from
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.



Nearly
7 months after liftoff the landing is
scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018 at
Elysium Planitia at around
3 p.m. EST (noon PST). 
The location is about 375 miles away from Gale Crater –
where NASA’s Curiosity rover landed in 2012. 
The InSight spacecraft approaches Mars in this
artist’s concept. Landing set for Nov. 26, 2018. 
Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and
Heat Transport, or InSight, is a Mars lander that probes the planet’s deep
interior to shed light on the evolution of Mars and the rocky planets of the
solar system.  C
redits: NASA/JPL-Caltecch
“Although we’ve done
it before, landing on Mars is hard. And this mission is no different,” Manning
explains.



“The process to get from
the top of the atmosphere to the surface we call Entry, Descent and Landing or EDL.” 



“It takes thousands of
steps to go from the top of the atmosphere to the surface. And each one of them
has to work perfectly to be a successful mission.”



“For 7 months,
InSight has made the interplanetary trek journeying to Mars while  attached to the cruise stage which provides
power, propulsion, guidance and navigation and communication.



But the job of the
cruise stage is nearly done. 



The next step just 7
minutes before we arrive at the top of the Martian atmosphere is to separate the
cruise stage.”



Watch the video for
Manning’s detailed explanation of the process and pitfalls of EDL.  

Deployment of supersonic parachute on NASA Insight during plunge
through the thin atmosphere of the Red Planet during harrowing Entry, Descent
and Landing on Nov. 26, 2018. Credit: NASA JPL

At the  moment she arrives, NASA’s InSight
spacecraft will have cruised 301,223,981 miles (484,773,006 km) at a top speed
of 6,200 mph (10,000 kph) during the seven-month journey to Mars. 

Descent
rockets fire to slow NASA Insight to soft touchdown on the Red Planet during harrowing
Entry, Descent and Landing sequence on Nov. 26, 2018. Credit: NASA JPL

By the time she reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere at approximately 80
miles (about 128 kilometers)
altitude, In Sight will be traveling at a velocity of
12,300
miles per hour (5.5 kilometers per second).



To accomplish a precision parachute and rocket
assisted soft touchdown all the EDL events much work to successfully slow the
spacecraft from 12,300 MPH to just 5 MPH at the end of the ‘7 Minutes of Terror.” 



She will deploy a supersonic parachute and fire
12 descent engines.



During the atmospheric plunge InSight will
experience radically high temperatures reaching up to 2700 degrees F (1500 C) – enough to melt iron – and is
protected from melting and destruction by the heat shield.  



The spacecraft is based on the design of NASA’s successful
Mars lander which touched down safely back in 2008 which arrives at a slightly
faster velocity of 12
,500 miles per hour
(5.6 kilometers per second).



Insight is also slightly heavier weighing
about 1,340 pounds (608 kilograms) vs. 1,263 pounds (573 kilograms).



InSight also will be landing
at a slightly higher elevation of “about 4,900 feet (1.5 kilometers) higher
than Phoenix did, so it has less atmosphere to use for deceleration.”

Descent
rockets fire to slow NASA Insight to soft touchdown on the Red Planet during harrowing
Entry, Descent and Landing sequence on Nov. 26, 2018. Credit: NASA JPL

So the InSight team
has been busy for 7 years to get the spacecraft ready for Monday’s landing on
Nov. 26.



InSight in an international science mission. Loaded aboard are
the two primary science instruments provided by European partners: The SEIS
seismometer and  HP3 heat flow
measuring instrument.



The SEIS seismometer instrument to detect marsquakes was provided by the Centre
National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) – the French national space agency
equivalent to NASA.  The other instrument
measuring heat flow from the Martian interior is provided by the German
Aerospace Center (DLR) and is named Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package
(HP3).  



The HP3 hammering mole will pound about 5 meters
(16 feet) deep into Mars pulling the science heat flow cable tether along to
make heat flow and temperature measurements.  
It will pause multiple times along the way down to make detailed
measurements at different depths of heat flow from the planets core. 



After landing it will take about 2 to 3 months to lift the two
science instruments off the robots deck and deploy them onto Mars surface using
the robotic arm.

Artist’s rendering of
the NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat
Transport (InSight) lander on Mars launched on May 5, 2018 from Vandenberg Air
Force Base, Calif and landing on Nov. 26, 2018
at Elysium
Planitia
.  Credits: NASA

InSight is also equipped with two cameras.  


There is also a
weather station aboard to continuously measure local temperatures, wind speeds and direction and pressures every day 24/7 for the first time on Mars.



Also
aboard are 2 cubesats named
MarCO A and B  (nicknamed
WALL-E and Eva)
which are the first
ever interplanetary cubesats launching beyond Earth orbit and towards the Red
Planet.  They are technology demonstration experiments.  



The
two briefcase sized spacecraft fly separately and have
survived
the entire trip and hopefully will relay EDL data from InSight as it plummets
down to the Red Planet.



They have taken a  few images to be detailed in another story.  


You can watch everything
live on landing day on
NASA TV starting at 2 p.m. EDT, 11 a.m. PST.



The landing coverage
will also be stream live on:
YouTube.com/NASAJPL/live and Ustream.tv/NASAJPL 


InSight
is funded by NASA’s Discovery Program of low cost, focused science missions
along with the science instrument funding contributions from France and
Germany.



Watch for Ken’s
continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space
Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility,
Virginia.



Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com
–www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com



Dr.
Kremer is a research scientist, journalist and photographer based in the KSC area
………….


Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events


Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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