When NASA’s InSight lander arrives at Mars, it will land near the planet’s equator at Elysium Planitia. This location is flat, which is ideal for a lander-type spacecraft like InSight, and it’s located in the perfect spot where InSight can receive tons of sunlight to power its scientific instruments.
InSight isn’t just any other lander mission on Mars; it’s entirely different from every rover put on Mars previously. InSight will study Mars’ internal processes, including planetary temperature, tectonics, and orbital wobble. To help uncover the details surrounding these mysteries, InSight will deploy an extraordinary drill that will probe deep beneath Mars’ sandy surface.
Citing NASA, this drill will dig 16 feet below Mars’ surface, which is nearly the same length as an ordinary sedan. Comparatively, NASA’s beloved Curiosity rover can only dig about one-half inch below the surface. As it digs, the drill will send bursts of heat and subtle vibrations through the surrounding soil to discern its chemical makeup.
InSight is sure to discover exciting data as it penetrates deeper into Mars than any other spacecraft before it. Fortunately, we’re nearing the spacecraft’s official landing, so it won’t be long now until NASA gets the opportunity to learn more about our red planetary neighbor than ever before.