Southern California residents can see the launch of NASA’s InSight Mars Lander. It will travel almost seven months toward Mars.
The launch is today, at 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 a.m. PDT/1105 GMT), at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. This is the first time Vandenberg hosts an interplanetary launch.
For those that don’t live in Southern California, you can watch the launch live on Space.com, starting with 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT). For those can see the launch, here is what to expect from the launch.
Atlas V Rocket Launching InSight
InSight will be launched with a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. If you live in Southern California, (Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego), you can view the rocket rising in the sky.
At the beginning of the launch, you should watch toward north-northwest, when the rocket will leave behind a bright trace across the sky.
The weather will be great, with temperatures of 50 Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and clear skies. However, according to NASA officials, there could be some morning fog that could make it less spectacular for those that are very close to the launch site.
If you’re watching the launch in person, try to watch it at above 600 feet high (on a hill or ridge), to avoid the fog.
Mars is also in a good position, as it gets closer to Earth by midsummer. It will rise on the sky at almost 1:30 a.m. local time, then before the break of dawn, it will glow on the south-southeast sky. At the moment, Mars is 76 million miles away from Earth. However, on July 30, it will get closer to Earth, at 35.8 million miles. By that date, it will shine nine times brighter in the sky than it has until now.
InSight Mars Lander’s Mission
The lander weighs 1,380-lb. (625 kilograms) and is a lab that will investigate the interior and the exterior of the Red Planet. It’s called InSight as an abbreviation to its full title: ‘Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.’
The mission will hopefully end with discoveries on Martian crust, heat under its surface, checks of seismic activity, finding how large is Mars’ core and more.
Along with InSight, there are two small cubesat satellites that will travel with the lab and relay transmissions from Mars to Earth.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.