Rocket carrying Mars rover launches from Vandenberg AFB

Rocket carrying Mars rover launches from Vandenberg AFB

In this handout provided by NASA, the mobile service tower at SLC-3 is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket with the NASA InSight spacecraft onboard on Friday May 4, 2018, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The launch drew pre-dawn crowds to Vandenberg Air Force Base and rocket watchers down the California coast into Baja. -European mission, he heard the roar of the rocket and all the blaring auto alarms it set off.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the InSight mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington.

"It's been a long time coming". If successful, they'll be the first interplanetary CubeSats ever deployed by NASA.

Almost 200 media members were accredited and the city of Lompoc hosted two public viewing sites for viewers, with between 3,500 and 4,000 people gathered at the Lompoc Airport. MarCO will be navigated to Mars independently of the InSight spacecraft, with its own course adjustments on the way. "It was an honor for the city's airport to be the official launch viewing site".

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Hundreds of guests also were positioned around Vandenberg. "Given that we've been going for eight years, the people I chose at the beginning to be young scientists aren't young scientists any more", he said. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander created to study the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.

Lockheed Martin's InSight spacecraft team leader, Pieter Kallemeyn met with Denver7 on Saturday to discuss mission specifics. An hour later, the 360-kg spacecraft was put on a direct path towards Mars: It is expected to land on the Red Planet's surface on November 26, after covering about 300 million miles.

The Centaur upper stage entered orbit 13 minutes after launch.

During InSight's entry, descent and landing (EDL) operations, the lander will transmit information in the UHF radio band to NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) flying overhead.

"I am hoping that I'm the highest paid person on the project to do nothing because I am the anomaly lead for operations", Bone added.

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Nasa has not put a spacecraft down on Mars since the Curiosity rover in 2012.

"This is really the heart of the InSight mission". But as Insight's principal investigator William "Bruce" Banerdt sees it, that's just scratching the surface.

It is also fitted with a German-made drill that can bore as far as 5 metres underground, measuring interior heat. The mission will conduct six science investigations on and below the surface of Mars to uncover the evolutionary history that shaped all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.

NASA spent an additional $18.5 million on two cubesats, called Mars Cube One (MarCO), that flew as secondary payloads on the launch.

The Atlas V rocket also brought on two mini satellites that will follow the InSight on its mission.

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