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NASA's next mission will study the heart of MarsThis weekend, NASA is set to launch the InSight Mars lander, which will study Mars' interior and seismic activity to better understand how planets are formed. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Farrah Alibay explains what to expect from the mission.
The Insight mission is a lander, and it's launching tomorrow on the fifth of May. It'll take six months to get to Mars, and once we land on Mars we're actually gonna listen for the vital signs of Mars. [BLANK_AUDIO] What the goal of this is, is to really understand how rocky planets formed and how they differ from each other and why. So it has a sizemometer. It's going to listen to marsquakes. And that gives us an idea of what the interior of Mars looks like. Because from the seismic waves we can understand Whether it has a mantle, or core, or multiple cores, and how it differs from Earth. It also has a heat flow and physical properties probe, which is a self hammering nail. And it's going to go down the surface of Mars by 5 meters, or 15 feet. So that's pretty far down. That's the furthest we've ever gone. Under the surface of any other planet. And the probe, once it's down, it's going to try to understand how the interior of Mars is cooling. So it can measure the heat along the tether that it drags down with it. And that gives us an idea of the heat differential under the surface. And then we have Rise which is a gravity science experiment that uses the radio signals that we already have And that will learn how the planet is flexing or wobbling, so it has solar arrays similar to what you may have on the roof of your house, about the same quality as that but that gives us power at Mars, so we don't need any plutonium or anything like that like other missions, we solely rely on solar arrays. We also have two color cameras. They're over here on the arm that you see. And so the cameras both give us context imaging of what's going on around Mars. And it also helps us with the deployment of the instruments. so one of the most complex things that we're doing with Insight, that we've never done in terms of technology. We've never done on any other mission before. Is that when we land, our key instruments are on the deck of the lander. We need them to be on the surface so they can listen to Mars. So we have to take that robotic arm, pick up the instruments from the deck and put them on the surface. So that last meter or so that we have to go from the deck to the surface For me it's actually the scariest thing. Let alone launching or landing on Mars, going that last meter and deploying those super sensitive instruments, that is something we've been practicing for, we're ready for it. I'm both excited and nervous about doing that. So together the three instruments should help us discover what the inside of Mars looks like And how it differs from earth. And that might give us a better idea of how planets form. Not only planets in our solar system, but also exo-planets. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO]