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THIS is how to watch Saturday's NASA Mars mission launch LIVE

05 May 2018

InSight is able to launch from California because the Atlas V is much larger than the Delta II rockets used in older missions to Mars, Hoffman said.

The launch is now scheduled for Vandenberg between 4:05 a.m. and 6:05 a.m. NASA has given a six-month time window to set InSight for Mars.

"This is huge for Lompoc in that it's the first West Coast interplanetary launch to happen", said Amber Wilson, Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO & President.

NASA is gearing up for one of its most anticipated launches of the year. And a day and a half before launch, everything else is indeed go.

Saturday's tour of JPL was one ofseveral stops the vice president made to the Southland - the region in California between Los Angeles and the U.S. -Mexico border - over the weekend, according to NBC San Diego.

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The spacecraft's two-year mission, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, is to investigate the interior structure and composition of Mars using a seismograph and special probes. The 360 kg spacecraft - its name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - marks the 21st US-launched Martian exploration, dating back to the Mariner fly-by missions of the 1960s. It also will be the first lander on Mars since the Phoenix, which landed near the north polar cap in 2008.

The 794-pound lander, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., is set to touch down on November 26 after a six-month cruise and a six-minute re-entry and descent-the most perilous aspect of the journey.

Technicians inspect InSight instruments.

But what are marsquakes, and why are NASA scientists hunting for them? However, during the Apollo missions, seismometers measured thousands of tiny quakes on the moon. When the French-built equipment was tested back in 2015, engineers found a slight leak in the vacuum chamber. If the launch is postponed, NASA will try again each morning for a month.

After Mars InSight's robotic arm deploys the seismometer, it will stretch out again to deploy a heat probe, officially known as Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe or HP3, but nicknamed the "mole".

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The lander will also be equipped with a hammer - a heat flow probe - that will essentially take the temperature of the planet at depths of up to three metres.

That information would normally be relayed to Earth by NASA's Odyssey spacecraft, which has been in orbit around Mars since 2001.

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"We picked something as close to a 100 kilometer-long parking lot as we could find anywhere", Banerdt tells Chang. By measuring changes in Mars' core temperature and movements below the surface, we can work out how active the planet is.

While Earth's tectonics and other forces have erased most evidence of its early history, much of Mars - about one-third the size of Earth - is believed to have remained relatively static for more than 3 billion years, creating a geologic time machine for scientists. But it is much more than a Mars mission.

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An Atlas V rocket will be carrying a rover dedicated to studying questions about the interior of Mars and the planet's tectonic activity. "How quake-prone is Mars?" Thus, scientists will be looking backward in time when they study Mars' frozen innards. The aim is for the first time to test the technology of microsurgeons (CubeSat) in the deep space and not, as before, near the Earth.

THIS is how to watch Saturday's NASA Mars mission launch LIVE