Nasa head off on Saturday to map the red planet and find out what is really at its core. This seven-month trip will mark the first investigation of the planet’s interior.
The mission will be conducted by a lander the size of your garden table and it will begin its journey on a very stable and largely unexciting part of Mars.
But what happens after touchdown?
The robot has a lot of tools and its disposal. It has a probe in the form of a spear, which it will stab into the soil to gauge the planet’s heat, and how fast it rises.
Then the robot will use its arm – which is also a seismometer – to measure any vibrations. But not just big ones. This robot can sense vibration smaller than the width of an atom. That’s pretty small!
Two antennas will then track the robots position on Mars and feed this information back to ground control. Scientists will then be able to work out how much Mars wobbles on its axis, which helps then determine what’s really at the planet’s core. Is it liquid or is it solid?
This may seem straightforward – but the lander must get to the planet first. And only 40% of the missions to Mars have been successful in the past.
So we will be keeping our paws crossed here at Koala Chess Art HQ – and wishing the lander all of the best this coming Saturday. 12:05pm take off – keep your eyes peeled.