back to article The Rocky Planet Picture Show: NASA Mars InSight ready for launch

NASA's Mars InSight will launch from California’s Vandenberg airbase tomorrow morning, with the aim of discovering how rocky planets form. InSight will lift off at 1105 UTC and is intended to be the first mission to peer beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet's interior by measuring its heat output and listening for …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Return ticket?

    InSight will arrive at Mars on 26 November and will stay for a full Martian year

    and then comes home again? Wow!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Return ticket?

      and then comes home again? Wow!

      I would hope that's the plan. We send them and leave them there...alone. They should come back home.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Return ticket?

        The Bring Back Rocks From Mars mission according to The Independent article I read ( https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/nasa-esa-mars-mission-red-planet-alien-life-proof-habitable-world-rock-a8324901.html )

        will be a three bird mission; one to collect the rocks, one to pick them up and put them into Mars orbit and a third to take them from orbit back to Earth.

        I hope I am still around for that, it would be something all these years after the moon rocks to see something man has brought back from another planet.

        Even if it is via a proxy robot or two.

        1. Number6

          Re: Return ticket?

          Ask YouTube about the NASA Sample Recovery Robot Challenge. Some of us had fun trying to do phase 2 a couple of years ago. It's surprisingly difficult, although I think technology will make great leaps before they have to do it for real.

  2. Dave 32
    Coat

    Why from Vandenberg?

    Any idea why it's being launched from Vandenberg? Vandenberg is usually used for polar orbits. They really can't take advantage of the Earth's rotation from there, since that would require launching the rocket towards the east, which is over populated areas, which is a no-no. Thus, the only objects launched from there tend to be reconnaissance satellites which need to be in a polar orbit. American interplanetary craft tend to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center, to take advantage of the Earth's rotation, to get into a transfer orbit, from which they're injected into a Hohmann Transfer Orbit to the other planet.

    Dave

    P.S. I'll get my coat; It's the one with a rocket in the pocket.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Why from Vandenberg?

      @Dave 32 my guess would that they are not sending this on the orbit around Earth ;) Depending on the direction of travel, it might be desirable NOT to include Earth's rotation for getting to Mars.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Why from Vandenberg?

      Yes it is indeed launching pretty much due south.

      They have a fluff video with lots of pretty pictures but not much info: "Atlas V InSight: Designing the Trajectory" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH9OEykMne8

    3. Hopalong

      Re: Why from Vandenberg?

      This was originally scheduled to be launched in 2016, but a problem with one of the instruments caused it to miss the 2016 window. At the time it looked like the eastern range (Basically KSC and in the Atlas's case, CCAFS) would have scheduling issues so they moved it to Vandenberg. Now the eastern range is even busier so it was kept at VFB.

      The mission was originally sized for a Delta II, but they have been just about retired, last one is launched in September from VFB and the Delta II pad at CCAFS had been decommissioned, so the Atlas V 401 was selected, which is a lot more powerful vehicle, so does not need the assist of being launched to the east to send InSight to Mars. InSight is about 850Kg, the 401 can launch about 2000Kg from VFB to Mars.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Why from Vandenberg?

        InSight is about 850Kg, the 401 can launch about 2000Kg from VFB to Mars.

        An opportunity lost for LOHAN to hitch a ride.

        Perhaps SPB can ask Musk/Bezos for a ride on one of their test launches

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Marco A/B Cubesats

    What's REALLY interesting is they're having 2 cubesats follow the probe into Martian orbit and record the entry/descent/landing with cameras. Apparently they cost almost nothing but will provide a metric shit-ton of extremely useful engineering data.

    1. Grikath Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Marco A/B Cubesats

      especially when they got their metric/imperial tables mixed again....

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Marco A/B Cubesats

        especially when they got their metric/imperial tables mixed again....

        Which is where the sterling work of the Reg Standards Bureau comes in - no risk of mixing up metric and imperial

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Marco A/B Cubesats

          Which is where the sterling work of the Reg Standards Bureau comes in - no risk of mixing up metric and imperial...

          Still difficult as the article references the "briefcase-sized spacecraft" only briefcase is not a standard measurement. I did in-depth research on the subject and found that a briefcase may range in volume from a little over 6 to right at 13 Bulgarian funbags. The engineers need to be careful with this or the whole thing could be a bust!

  4. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    It's just a launch to the left

    And then a star to the right...

  5. Grikath Silver badge

    30th space wing?

    Where's the other 29?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: 30th space wing?

      They were consumed in the 1st Pan-Galactic Chilli Dipping contest!

      But I digress. Hopefully there'll be some good data to help figure out why Earth and Mars have similar cores, but act differently.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: 30th space wing?

        > why Earth and Mars have similar cores, but act differently.

        Size matters?

  6. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    I hope the drill's called

    BRUCE.

  7. Number6

    It was indeed shrouded in fog. We heard it at the official viewing site but not a glimmer of light. It was as cold as a British Bank Holiday at 4am in Lompoc.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Yup, watched in "live" via the NASA broadcast. After the initial bit of flames clearing the tower there was basically nothing much to see. They used IR images pretty much all the way.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    A 401 -> 4m shroud. 0 SRBs 1 engine Centaur

    Which is a bit ironic given the stage was called Centaur because it had two heads (engines).

    A 401 is pretty much the baby Atlas V.

    Which means there is less to go wrong, which is very attractive on a long ride to Mars. And it's cheaper. All of which are pretty attractive features.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A 401 -> 4m shroud. 0 SRBs 1 engine Centaur

      "Which is a bit ironic given the stage was called Centaur because it had two heads (engines)."

      A centaur has one head. I suppose it has two torsos though.

  9. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Centaurs are traditionally male

    so they have two heads - the one they use to think with and the one which houses the brain.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019