With only one day left until NASA's historic InSight mission finally touches down on the red planet, everyone is excited to see the latest Mars lander descend on the dusty terrain of our planetary neighbor.
This includes the intrepid Curiosity rover — whose team took to Twitter to share their enthusiasm ahead of the big Mars landing scheduled to take place on November 26.
According to NASA, the InSight Mars lander is expected to touch down on the red planet on Monday afternoon, at 2:54 p.m. EST. The spacecraft will be landing on Elysium Planitia, a large volcanic plain stretching north of Mars' equator.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the InSight landing spot is located just 370 miles from the Gale Crater — where the Curiosity rover has been conducting scientific research ever since it first landed on Mars on August 2, 2012. Needless to say, the Curiosity team is thrilled to have a new robotic mission join the six-wheeled rover — and in such close proximity to boot. (As a side note, NASA's other Mars rover — the now-silent Opportunity robot — is stranded on the opposite side of the red planet, inside the Endeavor Crater).
Earlier today, the Curiosity team expressed their elation in an emotional Twitter message addressed to the InSight Mars lander.
"I couldn't ask for a better sol mate," Curiosity tweeted a few hours ago — making a witty reference at the Mars solar day, also known as a sol.The touching tweet is actually part of a longer exchange of words between Curiosity and InSight — an endearing conversation among the two NASA robots, in which the veteran Mars rover offers advice to the newbie and sends "good vibes" ahead of the big day tomorrow.
"Take it one step at a time. You've got this!" Curiosity wrote in a tweet.
"Although we're different, we're definitely family. There's no one in the universe who knows what I'm going through like you do. Sisters for life!" InSight posted in reply.
Aside from getting to welcome a new addition to the Mars family, Curiosity is also celebrating a personal milestone tomorrow. The date holds a special significance for the nearly seven-year-old robot, which left Earth to embark on its fantastic journey to Mars on November 26, 2011.
Meanwhile, the InSight mission took to space a mere seven months ago, on May 5. Short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, InSight is the world's first mission sent to investigate Mars' deep interior. Once it touches down on Elysium Planitia tomorrow, the InSight Mars lander will take a peek under the planet's crust and search for any seismic activity in an effort to detect and learn more about the famous marsquakes.
"It's rad that you're set to put the first seismometer on the surface of the Red Planet," Curiosity tweeted to its younger sibling.
"Yeah, I'm feeling excited and ready to see my new home. Can't wait to plant my feet in the soil. (And my instruments too, of course!)," replied InSight.
The spacecraft is accompanied by two smaller probes — the trailblazing MarCO CubeSats, affectionately dubbed "Wall-E" and "Eve" — which will be beaming back data on InSight's entry, descent, and landing sequence, as reported by the Inquisitr. Known as the "seven minutes of terror," the sequence will see InSight go through an extreme deceleration as the spacecraft hits the top of Mars' atmosphere at 12,300 miles per hour and quickly slows down to just five miles per hour in under seven seconds."There's a reason engineers call landing on Mars 'seven minutes of terror,'" Rob Grover, InSight's entry, descent, and landing lead, said in a statement from NASA.
"We can't joystick the landing, so we have to rely on the commands we pre-program into the spacecraft. We've spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings and studying all the conditions Mars can throw at us. And we're going to stay vigilant 'till InSight settles into its home in the Elysium Planitia region."InSight is the first spacecraft to touch down on Martian soil in six years — or ever since Curiosity got there. Stay tuned for more details on the big event, as the Inquisitr will be covering the highly-anticipated Mars landing tomorrow.