NASA’s InSight spacecraft set for touch down on the red planet

NASA’s InSight spacecraft set for touch down on the red planet

NASA has been flying past, orbiting, landing and roving over Mars since 1965.

As the space agency counts down the days until its arrival, here's everything you need to know about the lander and its mission. This was announced Wednesday at a press conference, broadcast on the NASA website, a representative of the jet propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (California) Rob Grover.

"The delta is a good place for evidence of life to be deposited and then preserved for the billions of years that have elapsed since this lake was present", Mars 2020 project scientist Ken Farley explained.

Once settled, the solar-powered craft will spend one Martian year - two Earth years - plumbing the depths of the planet's interior for clues to how Mars took form and, by extension, how the Earth and other rocky planets came into being.

At least five different kinds of rocks, including "clays and carbonates that have high potential to preserve signatures of past life", are believed to lie in the crater, just north of the Martian equator, the USA space agency said in a statement.

But first, the rover has to make it to the surface intact and upright, dodging a field of boulders, sand traps and the edges of the delta.

Nasa aimed for as flat an area as possible so the lander does not tip over and thereby kill the mission, and so the robotic arm can set the science instruments down.

Mars 2020 will use the same sky crane landing that successfully delivered NASA's unmanned Curiosity rover to a location called Gale Crater on Mars back in 2012. Mars is pretty cold today.

On the question of whether there were any measures in case of battery will not be revealed, he replied that the on-Board batteries provide power only during one Martian day (more than 30 minutes longer than earth's).

InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a news release.

"Nothing has been more hard in robotic planetary exploration than landing on Mars", said Zurbuchen.

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