NASA launches InSight lander to dig deep into Mars

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In a twist, NASA launched the Mars InSight lander from California rather than Florida's Cape Canaveral.

The Mars InSight probe lifted off from the central California coast at 4:05 a.m.PDT, treating early-rising residents across a wide swath of the state to the luminous pre-dawn spectacle of the first US interplanetary spacecraft to be launched over the Pacific. The rocket also carried two suitcase-size spacecraft, created to orbit Mars.

The payload is going to be released approximately 90 minutes after launch on a 301 million-mile (484 million kilometers) flight into Mars. It is due to reach its destination in six months, landing on a broad, smooth plain close to the planet's equator called the Elysium Planitia. Not exactly two dozen additional Mars missions are established by additional nations.

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InSight "will probe the interior of another terrestrial planet, giving us an idea of the size of the core, the mantle, the crust - and our ability then to compare that with the Earth", NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green said during a news conference.

InSight's primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, created to detect the slightest vibrations from "marsquakes" around the planet. The apparatus, to be set about the surface by the lander's robot arm, so can be sensitive it could measure a gaseous tide just half of the radius of a hydrogen atom. It will also attempt to make the first measurements of marsquakes, using a high-tech seismometer placed directly on the Martian surface. Meteorite impacts can also have seismic effects. However, In-Sight is expected to yield the very first substantive information on planetary seismic tremors outside Earth.

InSight will dig deeper into Mars than ever before - almost five metres - to take the planet's temperature.

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Washington D.C. [USA], May 6: National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Saturday (local time) launched InSight spacecraft to Mars to investigate the interior parts of the red planet.

Also aboard the Atlas V rocket were a pair of mini satellites, or CubeSats, meant to trail Mars InSight all the way to Mars in a first-of-its-kind technology demonstration.The €1bn mission involves scientists from the U.S. and Europe.

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