The first stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket for NASA’s InSight mission, is offloaded from the Antonov (AN-124) Russian aircraft.
The giant rocket just arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will study processes that formed and shaped Mars. Its findings will improve understanding about the evolution of our inner solar system’s rocky planets, including Earth.
The lander will be the first mission to permanently deploy instruments directly onto Martian ground using a robotic arm. The mission is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex 3E during the period March 4 to March 30, 2016, and land on Mars Sept. 28, 2016.
Images credit NASA