NASA’s InSight Mars Mission To Launch Next Saturday, Making May 5 ‘Cinco De Mars’

No one knows how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo like NASA!

Bill IngallsNASA/AP Images

NASA has a lot of projects in the works, and the next to launch is InSight. This mission to explore the interior of Mars is scheduled to launch on May 5.

InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is part of NASA’s Discovery Program and is the first of its kind. No other Mars mission has been designed to investigate Mars’ subterranean domain. It’s also the first planetary mission to launch from the West Coast.

As InSight explores under the martian surface, it will measure both heat production and seismic waves produced by marsquakes. These measurements will help scientists develop a map of Mars’ internal structure, and a better understanding of how it was created.

Here’s a look at InSight, courtesy of LockheedMartinVideos.

InSight will depart from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, 9.2 miles northwest of Lompoc, California. This location was chosen because its availability coincides with InSight’s six-week launch window. Take off is scheduled for 4:05 local time (7:05 EDT) on Saturday, May 5, but NASA will begin prelaunch coverage on Thursday, May 3. The coverage will be aired on both NASA Television, NASA.gov/live, YouTube.com/NASAJPL/live and Ustream.tv/NASAJPL.

According to NASA’s recent press release, the pre-launch briefing that begins at 4 p.m. on May 3 will feature administrators, directors, engineers, and managers from NASA Headquarters, their Jet Propulsion Labratory, and Lockheed Martin Space. The commander, Col. Michael Hough, and the weather officer, 1st Lt. Kristina Williams, of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg, will also take part. In addition, the pre-launch briefing will also include international seismometer investigation deputy project manager Annick Sylvestre-Baron, and lead, Philippe Lognonné, from the Centre National d’Études Spatiales and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France, respectively.

InSight, NASA Mars Mission
Featured image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The launch coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT on May 5, approximately half-an-hour before the official launch time of 7:05 EDT.

There are two official sites in Lompoc, California, that are designated for public viewing of the launch. One is the Lompoc City Airport, and the other is St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. More information on these locations and additional informal viewing sites can be found at mars.nasa.gov/insight. Remember, the PDT launch time is 4:05 a.m.

To make the most of your “Cinco de Mars,” NASA is hosting an #askNASA social media event during the pre-launch and launch coverage.

InSight is scheduled to arrive on Mars on November 26, 2018, just in time for another festive holiday. We should be thankful.