Red planet to get first U.S. vis­i­tor in years

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - World & Nation -

ous tum­ble dur­ing de­scent, or the para­chute could get tan­gled. A dust storm like the one that en­veloped Mars this past sum­mer could ham­per In­Sight’s abil­ity to gen­er­ate so­lar power. A leg could buckle. The arm could jam.

The tens­est time for flight con­trollers in Pasadena, Calif.: the six min­utes from the time the space­craft hits Mars’ at­mos­phere and touch­down. They’ll have jars of peanuts on hand — a good-luck tra­di­tion dat­ing back to 1964’s suc­cess­ful Ranger 7 moon mis­sion.

In­Sight will en­ter Mars’ at­mos­phere at a su­per­sonic 12,300 mph, re­ly­ing on its white ny­lon para­chute and a se­ries of en­gine fir­ings to slow down enough for a soft up­right land­ing on Mars’ Ely­sium Plani­tia, a siz­able equa­to­rial plain.

Hoff­man hopes it’s “like a Wal­mart park­ing lot in Kansas.”

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