More information about InSight’s power level will be available here in the weeks ahead. On June 19, 2022, InSight was generating an average of 410 watt-hours of energy per Martian day, or sol. The tau, or level of dust cover in the atmosphere, was estimated at 1.12 (typical tau levels outside of dust season range from 0.6-0.7).
MarCO-B, one of the experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, took this image of Mars from about 4,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) away during its flyby of the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018. MarCO-B was flying by Mars with its twin, MarCO-A, to attempt to serve as communications relays for NASA’s InSight spacecraft as it landed on Mars. This image was taken at about 12:10 p.m. PST (3:10 p.m. EST) while MarCO-B was flying away from the planet after InSight landed.
Mission controllers at NASA-JPL have received a signal from NASA’s InSight lander on the Mars surface via MarCO OR a beep from InSight’s X-band radio. In the coming hours, engineers will be checking on the spacecraft’s health. A post-landing news briefing expected at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST).
NASA’s InSight has begun its entry, descent and landing phase at Mars. Within seven minutes of entering the atmosphere, the spacecraft is expected to deploy its parachute, separate from its heat shield, pop out its landing legs, turn on its landing radar and start firing its retrorockets as it separates from its back shell. Touchdown is expected around 11:54 a.m. PST (2:54 p.m. EST).
The first CubeSats to deep space — Mars Cube One A and B — have begun to relay communications from the InSight spacecraft as it lands on Mars. MarCOs’ transmissions may be interrupted during the landing process, but their signals do not affect whether InSight completes its activities.
NASA’s InSight lander has separated from the cruise stage. It is turning to orient its heat shield in preparation for the entry, descent and landing process at Mars.
Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have completed the final adjustments for landing NASA’s InSight spacecraft on Mars. Atmospheric entry is expected around 11:47 p.m. PST (2:47 p.m. EST) and touchdown, about seven minutes later. Watch live commentary at https://www.nasa.gov/live
NASA’s InSight spacecraft is on target for Mars landing at around noon PST today. Regular updates about the entry, descent and landing will be posted here.
In mere hours, NASA’s InSight spacecraft will complete its seven-month journey to Mars. It will have cruised 301,223,981 miles (484,773,006 km) at a top speed of 6,200 mph (10,000 kph).
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the mission, are preparing for the spacecraft to enter the Martian atmosphere, descend with a parachute and retrorockets, and touch down tomorrow at around noon PST (3 p.m. EST). InSight — which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — will be the first mission to study the deep interior of Mars.
“We’ve studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry,” said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system.”
Before InSight enters the Martian atmosphere, there are a few final preparations to make. At 1:47 p.m. PST (4:47 p.m. EST) engineers successfully conducted a last trajectory correction maneuver to steer the spacecraft within a few kilometers of its targeted entry point over Mars. About two hours before hitting the atmosphere, the entry, descent and landing (EDL) team might also upload some final tweaks to the algorithm that guides the spacecraft safely to the surface.
On Nov. 26, NASA’s InSight spacecraft will blaze through the Martian atmosphere and attempt to set a lander gently on the surface of the Red Planet in less time than it takes to hard-boil an egg. InSight’s entry, descent and landing (EDL) team, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, along with another part of the team at Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, have pre-programmed the spacecraft to perform a specific sequence of activities to make this possible.