The day before, the NASA InSight Spacecraft is aiming to reach an eye on Mars, approaching a non-returning arrow.
Six-month InSight and 300 million kilometers (482 million kilometers) arrive to a finalized end of the afternoon.
The robotic geologist, designed to explore the interior of Mars, has to go from 12,800 mph (19,800 km / h) to zero in six minutes of flat, perforating the Martian atmosphere, throwing a parachute, burning down engines, and hopefully land on three legs.
It's NASA's first attempt to land on Mars for six years, and everyone involved is reasonably worried.
NASA scientist Thomas Zurbuchen confessed on Sunday that his stomach is already on the move. The hardest thing is to sit on your hands and do nothing, he said, except for hope and prayer for everything that works perfectly for InSight.
"Mars landing is one of the most challenging unique jobs people have to do in planetary exploration," said Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator at InSight. "It's such a difficult thing, it's such a dangerous thing that there's always a pretty uncomfortable chance that something could go wrong."
The Martian Earth's success rate is 40%, counting each flight, orbital flight and landing by the US, Russia and other countries dating back to 1960.
But the US has landed seven successful landings on Mars in the last four decades. With a single touchdown failed, it's an enviable record. No other country has managed to establish and operate a spacecraft on the red surface with dust.
InSight could give NASA the eighth victory.
It's shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plains near the Martian equator that InSight teams hope to be as flat as a car park in Kansas, with some, if not, rocks. This is not a rock collecting expedition. Instead, the 800 kilogram (360 kilograms) station will use his 6-meter robotic arm to place a reaper and a mechanical seismometer on the ground.
The car hammer mower will leave at a height of 5 meters down to measure the warmth of the planet, while the ultra-high-tech seismometer listens for possible marsquakes. Nothing like this was attempted before our neighbor near our neighbors, nearly 160 million kilometers away.
No experiment has ever been robotic from the spacecraft to the Martian surface. No lander dug more than a few centimeters, and no seismometer ever worked on Mars.
Examining the deepest and darkest interior of the planet Mars – still preserved from its early days – scientists hope to create 3D images that could show how the rocky planets of our solar system have now formed 4.5 billion years and which proved to be so different. One of the great questions is what made Earth so hospitable to life.
Mars once have rivers and lakes; deltas and lakes are now dry, and the planet is cold. Venus is an oven due to the thick atmosphere, captured by the heat. Mercury, closest to the sun, has a surface that is well burned.
Planetary know-how gained from the $ 1 billion InSight operation for two years could even shift into the rocky world beyond our solar system, according to Banerdt. The findings on Mars could help explain the type of conditions to the so-called "exoplanet" and how they fit into the story we are trying to figure out about how the planets are formed, "he said.
Focusing on planetary building blocks, InSight has no life-saving capabilities. This will be left for the future rovers. NASA's Mars 2020 mission, for example, will collect rocks for a possible return that could support evidence of ancient life.
Because it has been so much since the last Martian take-off of the ship – Curiosity in 2012 – Mars Mania is not just a space and science community but a day-to-day person.
The watched parties are planned from coast to coast to museums, planets and libraries, as well as to France, where the InSight seismometer was designed and built. NASDAQ's giant NASDAQ screen from Times Square in New York will begin broadcasting NASA television one hour before 15:00 at 15:00. EST touchdown; as well as the Udvar-Hazy National Air and Hatch Museum in Chantilly, Virginia and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. InSight spacecraft was built near Denver by Lockheed Martin.
But real action, at least on Earth, will take place at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, home to the InSight flight control team. NASA offers a special 360 degree online show inside the control center.
Confirmation of touch may take several minutes or hours. At a minimum, there is an eight-minute communication gap between Mars and Earth.
A briefcase pair of satellites in the back since launching in May will try to transmit their radio signals to Earth with a delay time of up to 9 minutes. These experimental CubeSats will fly right after the red planet without stopping. Signals could also travel directly from InSight to the West Virginia and German radio telescopes. It will take longer to hear from NASA's Marta orbits.
Project manager Tom Hoffman said he was trying to do his best to stay quiet while the hours are ticked. Once InSight telephones at home on the Martian floor, however, they expect to behave as the three young grandchildren did at Thanksgiving, running like crazy and screaming.
"Just to warn somebody who is sitting next to me … will unleash your 4-year-olds, so be careful," he said.