Washington: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is all set to launch its first-ever such mission to Mars to study its deep interior and find traces of how it was formed.
NASA's first interplanetary launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the Mars-bound InSight lander is scheduled for May 5.
The US space agency's InSight spacecraft, on board the 189-foot-tall (57.3-meter) United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, will be destined for the Elysium Planitia region located in Mars’ northern hemisphere to explore the deep interior of the Red Planet.
NASA said in a statement on Tuesday, InSight is planned for landing at Red Planet on November 26.
Tom Hoffman, Project Manager for NASA's InSight mission from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said,"If you live in Southern California and the weather is right, you'll probably have a better view of the launch than I will."
People from as far north as Bakersfield to perhaps as far south as Rosarito, Mexico, may see the Atlas rocket rising in the predawn sky and then heading south, parallel to the coastline.
This will also be the first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer, a device that measures quakes, on the soil of another planet.
InSight carries a suite of sensitive instruments to gather data and, unlike a rover mission, these instruments require a stationary lander from which they can carefully be placed on and below the Martian surface.
Looking deep into Mars will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from Earth.
Several European partners have contributed instruments and key components to the InSight mission.
(With IANS inputs)