Green Bank Observatory
Photo courtesy the GBO Facebook page.

Green Bank Observatory to track InSight Lander as it descends to Mars

The Green Bank Observatory in Pocahontas County will listen to the signal and gather data from NASA’s Mars InSight Lander as it descends to the surface of the Red Planet Monday.

The Green Bank Observatory Science Center is also holding a landing party to celebrate the occasion Monday afternoon.

From 1-4 p.m., visitors can watch live footage from NASA TV and the GBT Control Room, engage in hands-on activities, attend a special presentation and more to learn about Mars and the InSight Lander, according to the event’s Facebook page.

The event is free. Visit greenbankobservatory.org or call (304) 456-2150 for more information.

InSight — which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — will give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed nearly 4.5 billion years ago, according to GBO.

“Using cutting edge instruments, the lander will delve deep beneath the surface and seek the fingerprints of the processes that formed Mars. InSight will measure the planet’s ‘vital signs’ — its ‘pulse’ (seismology), ‘temperature’ (heat flow), and ‘reflexes’ (precision tracking),” according to information released by the observatory.

“NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will use the GBT to directly intercept and track the signal from InSight during the Lander’s Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) to the Martian surface. This data will confirm the safe landing of InSight as well as provide information on the speed and direction of the Lander as it goes through its landing sequence.”

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