Tears And Hugs - InSight Has Touched Down On Mars
11:54 a.m.: The InSight has touched down on Mars.
Fellow Americans, we're about to touch down on Mars (...again ...hopefully).
At 12:00 p.m. PST today, the NASA spacecraftship that's been making its way to the fourth planet from the sun is expected to land on Martian ground. The vehicle, called InSight (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), is operated by Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. It launched seven months ago, and is wrapping up a 301,223,981-mile journey.
Scientists are on edge about the landing--which will be the U.S.'s eighth successful touchdown, if all goes according to plan--because of the level of difficulty involved.
"Landing on Mars is hard. It takes skill, focus and years of preparation," said associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters Thomas Zurbuchen in a statement.
"There's a reason engineers call landing on Mars 'seven minutes of terror,'" added Rob Grover, InSight's entry, descent and landing (EDL) lead. "We can't joystick the landing, so we have to rely on the commands we pre-program into the spacecraft. We've spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings and studying all the conditions Mars can throw at us. And we're going to stay vigilant."
For those interested in nerding out and watching the landing, there are several options. You can livestream the event at JPL's webiste starting at 11:00 a.m. PST, or here at LAist (below). Or, you can hit up a watch party, the locations of which NASA has kindly compiled into a list. Top options in Los Angeles include the LA Central Library and the California Science Center.
You can also follow InSight on Twitter as it lands, and in the next few days and weeks, as it starts conducting its investigation.
This article was originally published on Nov. 26 at 10:59 a.m.