NASAs three-legged InSight lander arrives on the Red Planet after a six-month voyage, touching down near the Martian equator in a region named Elysium Planitia. For the first two months it will be involved in setting up its experiments, then will drill 15 feet into the planets surface and use sophisticated geophysical instruments to take temperature readings and register marsquakes.
InSight's robotic arm will also place another science instrument onto the ground. This is the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS, from the French Space Agency (CNES), with components from Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Previous missions to Mars have investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil, but InSight is the first mission to attempt to investigate the planet's earliest evolution - its building blocks - which can only be found by looking far below the surface. The data will have the wider benefit of providing details about the information about the formation of all the rocky planets. The mission will carry the names of earthlings to the planet. NASA invited people around the world to submit their names to be etched on a silicon chip that will be affixed to the lander to show, symbolically, support for the mission and for the future of space exploration.