This year, NASA will again experience these “seven minutes of terror” when its newest Mars mission arrives at the planet in November. Unlike the Curiosity rover, the InSight lander—the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport—will spend its lifetime in one spot on the Martian surface, burrowing beneath the soil to study the properties of planet’s interior.
The mission launches early Saturday from California, weather permitting. (Right now, meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force wing that oversees launch operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base predict just a 20 percent chance of good weather for liftoff. InSight has until June 8 to launch, when Earth and Mars begin to shift out of the alignment that makes for a quick, direct trip.)