NASA is in the countdown until landing Monday on Mars from the Mars InSight probe. With a cost of $ 993 million, he is the first to "listen" to the earthquakes and study the inner functioning of another rocky planet.
This unmanned spacecraft It was launched almost seven months ago and has already traveled about 482 million kilometers. Part of his mission is to report efforts to send human explorers to the red planet one day, something NASA hopes to do in the 2030s.
InSight Animation, Mars Landing (AP)
Mars InSight's landing will be the first time in 2012 when NASA's Curiosity Crash landed on the surface and analyzed the Earth's life stones now frozen and dry.
To do this, they have to survive the difficult entry into the atmosphere of the red planet, traveling at a speed of 19,800 kilometers per hour and rapidly reducing the speed to only 8 kilometers per hour.
The entry, descent and landing phase will begin Monday at 16:00 (Argentina time). In half joking, NASA refers to that stage as being "Six and a half minutes of terror".
Of the 43 missions launched on Mars, only 18 arrived on the red planet. This translates to a success rate of about 40%. All missions came from the United States. "We go to Mars is very, very difficult," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate manager of the NASA's Scientific Missions Division.
"The interesting part is that we rely on the success of the best team ever landing on this planet, which is NASA's team with its contractors and their collaborators."
The name Mars InSight refers to Mars's "internal exploration". (AP)
The InSight name derives from "Indoor exploration" because it will do seismic surveys, geodesy and heat transport.
With the full load of fuel, InSight weighs over 360kg, almost the same as a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Its central instrument is a earthquake detection seismometer which was made by the French Space Agency (CNES).
"This is NASA's only mission that is conceived around an instrument created abroad," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of CNES, for AFP. For this reason, he added, "is a fundamental mission for the United States, France" and to improve Mars' understanding.
Diagram about NASA's InSight exploration mission to land on Mars on November 26 – AFP / AFP
The six on-board quake sensors are so sensitive that they should reveal the smallest tremors on Mars, such as the faint pulling of the Phobos moon, the impact of the meteors, and eventually evidence of volcanic activity.
Seismology has taught mankind about Earth formation a great deal about 4.5 billion years ago, but many of Earth-based evidence has been lost through crucible recycling, led by plate tectonics. This process does not exist on Mars.
The spacecraft also has a "hitchhiking" probe that can dig at a depth of 3 to 5 meters to provide the first accurate measurement of the underground temperatures on Mars and the amount of heat that escapes from the inside.
InSight's landing will be damped by a parachute. His heat shield will help slow the ship and protect it from the friction of entering Mars' atmosphere.
The landing site is a flat area called Elysium Planitia, which NASA called "the largest parking lot on Mars".
NASA will find out in a matter of minutes whether the landing has been successful or not, but will have to wait more than five hours to confirm the deployment of the equipment. That would be at 5 o'clock in the afternoon (hour Argentina) on Monday.