Red Rover: Mars InSight Mission Arrives at the Red Planet

Eleanor Murray, Staff Reporter

Humans have always been fascinated by the stars. Groups like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, as it is more commonly called, dedicate their resources and knowledge to learning everything they can about space. This knowledge is used to assist in the exploration of space.

NASA has sent many missions into space and the most recent mission, the InSight Mars Lander Mission (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) traveled to the red planet, Mars. Mars has been a subject of much attention because of the theory that there are sentient beings, called Martians, living on the planet.

One of the facts that led to this myth (sadly, there are not actual Martians on Mars) is the existence of structures that resemble canals on the surface of Mars. However, it has been discovered that the canals are natural, not man-made, like people in the past assumed.

The most recent lander, part of the InSight mission, landed on Mars on November 26, 2018, at 11:52 am PT (Pacific Standard Time). It had been traveling through space for a few months since its launch on May 5, 2018, according to NASA.

Sending things to Mars is particularly difficult. Besides the fact that Mars and Earth are both spinning and moving in space, Mars’ gravitational pull is fairly large for a planet with such a thin atmosphere. This means that the lander was coming in fast with very little resistance from the atmosphere to slow it down.

However, it was equipped with a parachute and engines to compensate, according to Lockheed Martin, the company that designed and built the craft. The lander came to a safe landing on Elysium Planitia, a smooth plain nears Mars’ equator.

The purpose of this mission was to study Mars’ deep interior as well as the tectonic activity (Marsquakes) and the formation of the planet. This will help scientists understand more about the origins of Mars and what the planet is like compared to our own home planet, Earth.  According to NASA, the lander is only setting up equipment, but there have already been pictures that were taken and sent back to Earth.

With every mission sent into space, we come closer to the seemingly impossible goal of inhabiting space. There are likely to be additional major developments in the future.