(WAFF) - InSight is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central coast of California on May 5 at approximately 6:05 CST.
The mission's launch period is May 5 through June 8, 2018, with daily launch windows that last two hours per day. Launch opportunities are set five minutes apart during each date's launch window.
InSight will launch from Launch Complex 3 and ride atop an Atlas V-401 rocket provided by United Launch Alliance, Centennial Colorado, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.
The Atlas V is one of the biggest rockets available for interplanetary flight. This is the same type of rocket that launched the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005.
InSight, for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. It will study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all rocky planets formed, including Earth and its Moon.
The lander's instruments include a seismometer to detect marsquakes, and a probe that will monitor the flow of heat from the planet's interior.
InSight will be the first mission to another planet to leave Earth from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Missions to other planets normally launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and fly east, over water.
The launch is only the beginning; the trip to Mars takes about six months. The journey is about 301 million miles.
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