Mars landing comes down to final 6 minutes of 6-month trip
  • Sunday, December 16, 2018
  • 74°

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Mars landing comes down to final 6 minutes of 6-month trip

  • NASA / 2016

    This illustration shows NASA’s InSight lander about to land on the surface of Mars.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. >> For NASA’s InSight spacecraft, it all comes down to the final six minutes of a six-month journey to Mars.

The lander will enter the Martian atmosphere at supersonic speed, then hit the brakes to get to a soft, safe landing on the alien red plains.

After micromanaging every step of the way, flight controllers will be powerless over what happens at the end of the road Monday, nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) away.

Project manager Tom Hoffman says by the time they hear anything, the whole thing will be over. The communication lag between Mars and Earth is eight minutes.

If all goes well, the lander will spend the next two years digging into Mars and doing other experiments.

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