The Insight mission ( Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is on track for a soft touchdown on the surface of the Red Planet, NASA says. "It takes skill, focus and years of preparation", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The Mars lander will experience what they call "seven minutes of terror" as it streaks into the red planet's thin atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour. Engineers at mission control will continue monitoring the spacecraft and the red planet this weekend to make sure that everything is in order before landing in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars.
Professor Tom Pike from Imperial College London is part of the Mars InSight team which designed sensors to detect marsquakes.
"We can't joystick the landing, so we have to rely on the commands we pre-program into the spacecraft".
The data collected by InSight during this mission will help the scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including earth.
But before all the experiments start, InSight has to touch down.
The two MarCO spacecraft (A and B) are making good progress towards their rendezvous point, and their radios have already passed their first deep-space tests.
"And now we are gearing up for the MarCOs' next test - serving as a possible model for a new kind of interplanetary communications relay", Marinan said.
The stationary probe, launched from California in May, will then pause for 16 minutes for the dust to settle, literally, around the landing site before its disc-shaped solar arrays unfurl to provide power.