NASA’s New Mission to Mars “Insight”

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a governmental organization responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and space research situated in Washington DC, USA.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics(NACA) was replaced by NASA in 1958. The new agency was supposed to have a clearly civilian bent, emphasizing peaceful uses of space technology. Since its inception, NASA has been in charge of the majority of US space exploration endeavors, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. NASA is responsible for the development of the Orion spacecraft, the Space Launch System, Commercial Crew vehicles, and the projected Lunar Gateway space station in addition to supporting the International Space Station.

The Earth Observing System is dedicated to better understanding Earth; the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program is dedicated to advancing heliophysics; advanced robotic spacecraft such as New Horizons is dedicated to exploring bodies throughout the Solar System, and the Great Observatories and associated programs are dedicated to researching astrophysics topics such as the Big Bang.


InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission is a robotic lander designed for research activity in the deep interior of Mars. It is a part of NASA’s Discovery Program.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the lander is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Its scientific instruments were built by European agencies like France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA).

Launching of InSight

On 5th May 2018, NASA launched the InSight lander from the U.S. Air Force Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3E aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. It was the first-ever mission to study the heart of Mars.


InSight is the first interplanetary mission ever to launch from the West Coast. Earlier, all NASA missions to other planets have lifted off out of Florida, where they get an extra speed boost. Due to InSight’s small size, it was launched from California.

The lander was originally scheduled to launch in 2016 but was delayed until May 2018.

It successfully landed over the planet Mars on November 26, 2018

What is the goal of InSight mission?

InSight is also known as a scientific time machine which will collect the information about the initial phases of Mars’ creation 4.5 billion years ago,“.


The goal of InSight mission:

  • To study the deep interior of Mars.
  • To help uncover the process that shaped all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.
  • Is there potential for life on a planet that’s not Earth?
  • Understanding the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets through investigation of interior structure and processes of Mars.
  • Determining the present level of tectonic activity and meteorite impact rate on Mars.


About InSight

  • InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
  • It is a robotic lander designed to study the interior of the planet Mars.
  • It is a solar battery-powered terrestrial planet explorer.
  • Two pairs of small satellites: MarCO-A and MarCO-B  are accompanied by InSight. The satellites will serve as an experimental communications-relay network for InSight.
  • It has a seismometer for detecting quakes, sensors for gauging wind and air pressure, a magnetometer, and a heat flow probe designed to take the Mars temperature.


  • NASA’s Mars Lander InSight has recorded a quake of 2 or 2.5 magnitude on Mars.

  • It is the first ‘Marsquake’ being observed

  • Similar to earthquakes, marsquakes are tremors on the Red Planet but they aren’t caused by the same forces.

  • Earthquakes are caused by sudden movements of the Earth’s tectonic plates but Marsquakes are caused when the planet cools and contracts, causing the crust to crinkle slightly. 

About Mars


  • Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun of the solar system.
  • Red Planet or Mars, is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere.
  • Due to its reddish iron oxide prevalent on its surface, it is known as Red Planet.
  • It is the second-smallest planet in the solar system after Mercury.
  • It has surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.

Life on Mars:

  • Due to the low atmospheric pressure, the liquid water doesn’t found on Mars surface.
  • The atmospheric pressure is less than 1% of the Earth’s.
  • Two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water.
  • Martian rock contained structures resembled the fossilized remains of bacteria-like lifeforms.

Other Mars Mission

Till now, there are 56 missions to Mars, out of which only 26 came out to be successful. China’s Tianwen-1 and UAE’s Hope are the recent mission send to Mars

Other Mars Mission include: 

  • Mars Odyssey launched on April 7, 2001 by NASA
  • Mars Express was launched by European space agency on 2nd June 2003. 
  • Mars Spirit and Opportunity launched in 2003 by NASA
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched by NASA in 2005
  • Curiosity Rover was launched by NASA in 2011.
  • Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) launched in 2013 by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) 
  • MAVEN by NASA in 2013

How Is InSight different from previous Mars vehicles?

InSight mission is different from previous Mars vehicles, which studied the planet’s surface.

InSight mission will do the full body checkup of the red planet ‘Mars’.

It will help the scientists to learn more about Mars’ interior and give an idea of how this planet was born.


  • InSight is different from previous Mars vehicles because it is a lander, not a rover. 
  • Once it will land on Mars, it will stay at one place for the rest of its lifetime on the planet.

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