CRUISE STAGE SEPARATION
The cruise stage provides power and communications to the spacecraft for travel between Earth and Mars.
The spacecraft’s backshell and heat shield together form the aeroshell that encapsulates the InSight lander.
Seven minutes before atmospheric entry, the cruise stage separates.
Protection from Extreme Heat
The heat shield is covered with material that protects the encapsulated lander during the period of high-temperature friction with the Mars atmosphere.
Temperatures around the Entry Vehicle peak as the vehicle descends through the Martian atmosphere. Safe inside, InSight stays cool at about room temperature.
(6,100 kph) (1,370 kph)
Prior to parachute deployment, the spacecraft turns so that the atmosphere slows it down from 8,500 to 3,800 mph (13,700 to 6,100 kph).
The parachute has a disk-gap-band configuration and a diameter of 38 feet, 9 inches (11.8 meters). Once deployed during descent, it will extend about 85 feet (26 meters) above the backshell.
HEAT SHIELD JETTISON
Consists of the lander and aeroshell together, after separation from the cruise stage.
At about 2 minutes 37 seconds to touchdown, the heat shield is jettisoned and the lander extends its shock-absorbing legs.
The lander separates from its backshell and parachute with 41 seconds remaining to touchdown.
The lander separates from the parachute and entry vehicle. InSight is on its own.