NASA’s InSight spacecraft launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5. Unlike most spacecraft launches it was launched from California instead of the typical launch location chosen by NASA: Cape Canaveral, Florida. The journey of this spacecraft will consist of approximately 7 months in order for it to arrive on the surface of Mars. Mars-quakes will be studied as well as the composition of the core of the planet. Furthermore, the direction of the InSight spacecraft must be adjusted by NASA within 10 days of post launch otherwise it will miss Mars by a few hundred thousand miles. The knowledge gained from this spacecraft will allow us to learn more about the formation of rocky planets in our solar system and beyond. For all we know we may encounter a surprising discovery similar to the discovery of water on Mars. After all, NASA is the only space agency that has been able to land and control a spacecraft on the surface of Mars (Curiosity was the first ever spacecraft to work successfully on Mars in 2012).
Studying the core of Mars will allow us to get a better grip on natural disasters such as Mars-quakes as well as others we have not yet heard about that occur on Mars. After all, our knowledge of Mars is quite limited in terms of what we have captured on the surface as this will be only the second spacecraft in human history to land and be functional (should this mission succeed as many scientists are hoping). More information about the climate within the inner core of Mars can be obtained with this mission. The satellites launched along with the spacecraft are functioning properly according to engineers with NASA. The experiments conducted by this spacecraft will take place over the course of two years. The spacecrafts trip will consist of approximately 205 days as it gathers vital information that decades from now could potentially be seen as crucial to understanding how to establish a colony on Mars.
The launch of this spacecraft turns the focus away from telescopes in the realm of space related news. Often when we hear about news from NASA it typically deals with telescopes such as Kepler, Spitzer and the James Webb telescope. The launch of this spacecraft is great news to hear especially considering that 2033 is the target year (mandated by a presidential order by U.S President Donald Trump) for a human mission to Mars. This spacecraft’s launch is only one of several series of events that are necessary before an eventual astronaut led trip to Mars.