New probe to ‘stare into’ Mars
then follow the spacecraft for six months all the way to Mars.
They won’t stop at Mars, just fly past. The point is to test the two CubeSats as a potential communication link with InSight as it descends to the red planet on November 26.
These Mars-bound cubes are nicknamed WALL-E and EVE after the animated movie characters. That’s because they’re equipped with the same type of propulsion used in fire extinguishers to expel foam.
In the 2008 movie, WALL-E used a fire extinguisher to propel itself through space.
InSight is scheduled to rocket away from central California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base early Saturday. It will be Nasa’s first interplanetary mission launched from somewhere other than Florida’s Cape Canaveral. Californians along the coast down to Baja will have front-row seats for the pre-dawn flight.
No matter the launching point, getting to Mars is hard.
The success rate, counting orbiters and landers by Nasa and others, is only about 40 per cent. The US is the only country to have successfully landed and operated spacecraft on Mars. The 1976 Vikings were the first landing successes.
InSight will use the same type of straightforward parachute deployment and engine firings during descent as Phoenix lander did in 2008. No bouncy air bags like the Spirit and Opportunity rovers in 2004. No sky crane drop like Curiosity. - AP more.’’
But hopes for a quiet departure have not borne fruit.
Hu Jia, a dissident and longtime friend of the Lius, described Liao’s essay as a ‘‘counterattack’’ against Chinese authorities prompted by an ‘‘awakening’’ after hearing for months that Liu would soon be released.
Corroborating Liao’s account, Hu said Liu had initially been told by security agents to wait until after the 19th Party Congress last fall, when President Xi Jinping secured a second term at the helm of the ruling Communist Party. Then, Hu said, they told her to wait until after the meeting of the ceremonial legislature in March. – AP
This illustration made available by Nasa in 2018 shows the InSight lander drilling into Mars.