NASA has sent a number of high-tech robots to the Red Planet already, but we don’t normally hear about how things like entry and landing went until after the fact. That’s going to change with the entry of the InSight lander, which is scheduled to touch down on Mars on November 26th, because NASA is going to live stream the entire event for the world to watch.
No, the lander won’t actually be sending back live video of itself hurtling towards the Martian surface, but the space agency is going to have live commentary and video feeds from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s mission control so we can see the scientists and engineers doing their thing in real time.
In a new blog post, JPL says that it’s actually planning on doing two live streams side-by-side. One will be streamed on the NASA TV Public Channel and will include commentary from experts explaining what is happening and giving detailed updates. The second will be what NASA called “an uninterrupted, clean feed from inside JPL mission control, with mission audio only,” meaning that you’ll be able to hear the engineers and controllers talking to each other without anyone narrating the action.
JPL added some additional color for the special nature of the mission:
Launched on May 5, InSight marks NASA’s first Mars landing since the Curiosity rover in 2012. The landing will kick off a two-year mission in which InSight will become the first spacecraft to study Mars’ deep interior. Its data also will help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own.
InSight is being followed to Mars by two miniature NASA spacecraft, jointly called Mars Cube One (MarCO), the first deep-space mission for CubeSats. If MarCO makes its planned Mars flyby, it will attempt to relay data from InSight as it enters the planet’s atmosphere and lands.
If everything goes as planned, InSight will deliver data about Mars that scientists can now only dream of. Finding out how the guts of the planet work should be incredibly interesting, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for all kinds of neat discoveries in the days and months following the spacecraft’s landing.