InSight Ready to Land on Mars

Tomorrow is the day! InSight lands on Mars! Coverage should be pretty easy to find, we will of course have it so if you cannot get NASA TV, check in here at 09:00 UTC / 14:00 ET for a mirror of NASA’s Public channel

NASA also posted a time line of spacecraft actions I thought was pretty interesting, mostly because of the exactness of the timing.

I added in the UTC times below, funny NASA doesn’t do that. No matter, but if I mess up the conversions, it’s my error and not NASA’s. Remember the Beagles! (LOL)

Here’s the time line NASA published:
11:40 a.m. PST (2:40 p.m. EST / 19:40 UTC) — Separation from the cruise stage that carried the mission to Mars
11:41 a.m. PST (2:41 p.m. EST / 19:41 UTC) — Turn to orient the spacecraft properly for atmospheric entry
11:47 a.m. PST (2:47 p.m. EST / 19:47 UTC) — Atmospheric entry at about 12,300 mph (19,800 kph), beginning the entry, descent and landing phase
11:49 a.m. PST (2:49 p.m. EST / 19:49 UTC) — Peak heating of the protective heat shield reaches about 2,700°F (about 1,500°C)
15 seconds later — Peak deceleration, with the intense heating causing possible temporary dropouts in radio signals
11:51 a.m. PST (2:51 p.m. EST / 19:51 UTC) — Parachute deployment
15 seconds later — Separation from the heat shield
10 seconds later — Deployment of the lander’s three legs
11:52 a.m. PST (2:52 p.m. EST / 19:52 UTC) — Activation of the radar that will sense the distance to the ground
11:53 a.m. PST (2:53 p.m. EST / 19:53 UTC) — First acquisition of the radar signal
20 seconds later — Separation from the back shell and parachute
0.5 second later — The retrorockets, or descent engines, begin firing
2.5 seconds later — Start of the “gravity turn” to get the lander into the proper orientation for landing
22 seconds later — InSight begins slowing to a constant velocity (from 17 mph to a constant 5 mph, or from 27 kph to 8 kph) for its soft landing
11:54 a.m. PST (2:54 p.m. EST / 19:54 UTC) — Expected touchdown on the surface of Mars
12:01 p.m. PST (3:01 p.m. EST / 20:01 UTC) — “Beep” from InSight’s X-band radio directly back to Earth, indicating InSight is alive and functioning on the surface of Mars
No earlier than 12:04 p.m. PST (3:04 p.m. EST / 20:04 UTC), but possibly the next day — First image from InSight on the surface of Mars
No earlier than 5:35 p.m. PST (8:35 p.m. EST / 01:35 UTC) — Confirmation from InSight via NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter that InSight’s solar arrays have deployed.

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