NASA’s Insight Mars lander has performed its first engine burn on May 22nd, 2018 Tuesday, when it is moving towards the Red Planet. The lander is now cruising toward the Mars after NASA launched it on May 5th and it performed the first course-correction manoeuvre after the first burn.
The burn which was done by the Lander is for only 40 seconds. This burn involves about four of Insight’s eight thrusters which were designed in such a way that the lander’s velocity is about 8.5 mph or 13.7 km/h. The team leaders of the mission are scheduled to perform up to five additional burns before November 26th, 2018. On this date, the Mars lander will be touching down as per NASA officials.
Insight had lifted off from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on May 5th, 2018. It is said to be the perfect launch, and the spacecraft has scrubbed to clean before the liftoff to minimise the chances of infecting the Red planet with Earth microbes.
According to the NASA officials, they said in a statement, “As a result, Mars launches involve aiming the rocket just off-target so that it flies off into space. Separately, the spacecraft performs a series of trajectory correction manoeuvres guiding it to the Red Planet. This makes sure that only the clean spacecraft lands on the planet, while the [rocket] upper stage does not come close.”
The four thrusters who have not fired in the manoeuvre is constantly working to keep the antenna of the Insight’s facing Earth, and it’s solar panels which are facing the sun. The navigation team tracks these background burns closely.
The next course correction of the Insight is scheduled at July 28th, 2018 as per the Mission’s press kit and additional burns are scheduled for October 12th, November 11th, 18th, and 25th.