NASA's InSight mission is about to drill Mars
NASA's InSight mission is about to drill Mars
5:09

NASA's InSight mission is about to drill Mars

Science
Tonight, after years of will they, won't they, NASA is finally getting to know Mars on a deeper level with the Insight mission. What is NASA going to discover when it drills beneath the Martian surface? How will it measure Mar's quakes and if NASA's relationship with Mars was kind of like a 90s rom-com, which planet would be the mean cheerleader? My money's o Jupiter. I'm Clare Reilly, welcome to Watch This Space. [MUSIC] From the CNET studios here in Sydney, this is your weekly guide to everything on Earth you need to know about space. And tonight, the Insight mission is landing on Mars. NASA is about to get its groove back on the Red Planet. And just like the 1998 romantic comedy starring Angela Basset and the sassy Whoopi Goldberg, things are about to get surprisingly intimate in the sand. Landing on November 26, Insight will drill beneath the Martian surface to learn more about Mars quakes, the planet's core, and its orbit around the Sun. Insight is short for interior exploration using seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport. Boy how the NASA loves a backronym. How did they even come up with these names anyway? What do you mean we can't do any seismic investigation, Gavin gave us the acronym. We're just gonna have to invent the science. This is the best mission I'll ever have. [SOUND] Previous missions to Mars have focused on robotic expiration of the planet surface, like opportunity which is being running the planet since 2004, or curiosity which is been getting lost in sandstorms and sending back the loneliest selfies this side of the solar system. We're a bit worried about him. But with insight NASA is going is to drill down and learn more about the interior of the red planet to get to know it on a deeper, more intimate level. Because NASA's not superficial, it cares about what's on the inside. Here to explain that questionable analogy is watch this space relationship correspondent and loose bachelorette dating game amalgam, Courtney Rose I feel like until now NASA has really been [UNKNOWN] Mars, judging the planet on its surface layers. But with insight it feels like NASA's gonna take off Mars' ugly glasses and its [UNKNOWN] clothes and find a cool babe planet underneath. With a drill. My ideal Insight date? Wow, I guess it would be dinner, and dancing, and using Insight's 2 million gain antennas and expand radio transponder to measure doppler shift, and ultimately learn the composition of Mar's core. And margaritas at sunset. Thanks Courtney, but let me break it down with fewer references to the admittedly great film She's All Bad. The insight lander has three primary science goals. To measure the planet's heat flow, track seizmic activity, and measure how mars wobbles in orbit to learn more about the very interior of the planet. To do that, inside it's packed with three main instruments to conduct experiments. First off is the heat flow and physical properties probe or HP3. This will act like a thermometer, borrowing almost 16 feet or 5 meters below the Martian surface, deeper than any probe has ever gone on Mars. Like that scene from The Matrix but for science. [SOUND] Then there's the insight seismometer, a dome shaped instrument which will sit on the Martian Surface and measure seismic vibrations on the ground, including marsquakes. Kinda like that terrifying scene in Jurassic Park, but for science. [SOUND] And then there are the radio sized antennas. These instruments will receive signals from Earth and then bounce them back, kind of like a mirror. Even though Mars is millions of miles away, NASA says these signals will help scientists track the location of the Lander Down to a couple of centimeters. And by comparing these positions of the life of the mission that'll help us determine whether Mars wabbles on its orbit around the Sun. From that we can learn whether Mars has a solid or liquid core, kinda like when you rolled a boiled egg and an unboiled egg across the bench in science class. But for actual science. Alongside these instruments, InSight also has a bunch of other gear on board including cameras, temperature and wind sensors and a communications antenna that will relay a message back to Earth via two orbiters flying around Mars. And don't forget the giant robot arm that will help move all the instruments onto the Martian surface The inside mission blasted off in May 2018 with two briefcase size cube set taking long for the ride ready to do that on experiments around Mars because so lonely NASA is not making two trips. It will take a few weeks before inside start collecting hits and size metaphor actually because NASA has to be really picky about how and where the instruments will be positioned. From there it will conduct experiments over a little less than two years, bringing in fascinating data over a mission expected to last a total of 709 sols. No one knows for sure what the next two years will bring, but we do know Know one thing, NASA and Mars are officially going steady. All right, that's it for this week's addition of Watch This Space. As always, if you've enjoyed the show, then make sure you click the Like button on your remote, and subscribe to get more space news as it happens. And of course, if you've got a favorite space topic that you want us to cover, hit me up in the comments. I'm Claire Riley for CNET, good night, and god speed.

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