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Frequently Asked Questions


Overview


What will the InSight mission do?


The InSight lander is equipped with sensitive instruments with which to investigate Mars' deep interior for the first time. The mission will study the size, thickness, density and overall structure of the core, mantle and crust, as well as the rate at which heat escapes from the planet's interior. This will provide glimpses into the evolutionary processes of all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system. Read more about the mission on the overview page.

How long is the InSight mission?


InSight's primary mission is two Earth years, or a little over one Mars year. That's about 728 Earth days, or 708 Sols (Mars days). Learn more at NASA's Mars InSight's mission timeline.

How is the InSight mission different from other missions?


The InSight lander complements missions orbiting Mars and roving around on the planet's surface. It is the first outer space robotic explorer dedicated to studying the "inner space" of Mars in-depth: its crust, mantle, and core. InSight will help answer key questions about the formation of the terrestrial planets of the solar system. It will look for tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars, study how much heat is still flowing through the planet, and track the planet's wobble as it orbits the Sun. So while it’s a Mars mission, InSight is also more than a Mars mission. Learn more on the mission overview page.

Why is it called the InSight mission?


InSight is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. A dictionary definition of “insight” is also to see the inner nature of something. InSight is the first mission dedicated to a thorough study of Mars' interior structure. InSight will help answer questions about how the rocky planets of the solar system formed. It will do this by looking for seismic waves, studying the planet's wobble as it moves in its orbit around the Sun, and by taking its temperature to measure just how much heat is still flowing through the planet's interior. Learn more about InSight on the mission overview page.

Launch


When will the InSight mission launch?


InSight's launch window is open from May 5 through June 8, 2018. The mission, which is the first interplanetary launch thus far, will launch from the U.S. West Coast. Find out more on the InSight launch page.

How can I watch the launch of InSight?


You can watch the launch on NASA TV or if you are in California, in person. The launch may be visible from various places on the West Coast of the U.S. Learn more on the InSight launch page.

Where can I watch the launch of InSight?


You can watch the launch online or on NASA TV. If you are in California near the launch area, you can probably see the launch in person. More information on watching the launch in person.

Why is InSight launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base?


InSight will be the first mission to another planet leave Earth from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Missions to other planets normally launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and fly east, over water. That's because launching towards the east adds the momentum of Earth's eastward rotation to the launch vehicle's own thrust. But the Atlas V-401 is powerful enough to fly south towards the sea from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Besides, Vandenberg Air Force Base is more available at this time to accommodate InSight's six-week launch window. More about launch.

Landing


When will InSight land on Mars?


InSight's launch window is open from May 5 to June 8, 2018. Regardless of when it launches during this window, InSight will land on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018. Learn more on the mission's landing phase.

Where will InSight land?


InSight will land in a region called "Elysium Planitia," centered at about 4.5 degrees north latitude and 135.9 degrees east longitude. As the name indicates, the landing site is a flat, smooth plain close to the equator. Learn more on the mission's landing site and why it was selected.

How close will Curiosity be to the Insight lander?


InSight will land in Elysium Planitia, which is roughly 373 miles (600 kilometers) from Curiosity's landing site, Gale Crater. Read more about InSight's landing site and why it was selected.

How long will it take for the InSight spacecraft to arrive on Mars?


Once it launches, the InSight spacecraft will take about six months to arrive on Mars. This time between InSight's launch and arrival at Mars is called the cruise phase. The approach towards the surface will begin 60 days before landing, and the entry, descent and landing itself will take about six minutes. Learn more about the lander's journey to Mars here.

Images


Where can I see the InSight images?


You can see images of the InSight mission in the Image Gallery.

News


Where can I get InSight news?


You can get the latest news on the mission website. The mission also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Science


How many instruments are on InSight?


InSight will carry three science instruments to study the interior of Mars: a seismometer (SEIS) to measure Mars' internal activity, a heat probe (HP3) to measure its temperature, and a radio science instrument (RISE) to study its reflexes. The lander's environmental measurements and sensors will provide key contextual information for the mission's science investigations. You can learn more about InSight's instruments and what they will do on Mars.

How will InSight look for marsquakes?


InSight carries a seismometer that can detect seismic waves passing through the Martian crust. These seismic waves could be caused by marsquakes. Scientists have seen a lot of evidence suggesting that like Earth, Mars has quakes. But unlike quakes on Earth, which are mostly caused by tectonic plates moving around, seismic waves on Mars could be caused by other types of tectonic activity, such as volcanism and cracks forming in the planet's crust. In addition, the thump of meteorite impacts can also create seismic waves. Read more about how InSight will look for quakes on Mars.

How deep will InSight dig?


InSight's Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe, HP3, will dig about 16 feet (five meters) into the Martian subsurface, deeper than all previous arms, scoops, drills and probes. It will measure heat coming from Mars' interior and reveal the planet's thermal history. You can learn more about how InSight will measure Mars' temperature.

How far will InSight drive around Mars?


InSight is a lander not a rover, therefore it will not drive around the Martian surface. Its sensitive instruments need to be still and quiet to capture the tremors of seismic events. Thus, the lander is designed to be stationary. Learn more about the InSight Lander and its cool tools.

Lander


How much does the InSight lander weigh?


The InSight lander weighs 794 pounds (360 kilograms). Read more about the lander here.

What is the power source on the InSight lander?


InSight's power source is solar power. Two solar panels on the lander harness the energy of the Sun's rays to generate power. Read more about the InSight mission here.

Will my name still fly to Mars due to launch moving to 2018?


Yes, if you have a boarding pass, your name will fly to Mars when InSight launches.

Where can I see a picture of the chip being sent on InSight?


An image of the final chip will be put on the InSight/Send your name to Mars pages, and the InSight Mission website.

Where can I see a list of names being sent on InSight?


We do not publish the final list of names. All names are reviewed prior to submission on the mission microchip.