Former astronaut gives insight on Mars lander

InSight is the eighth lander on Mars

Former Astronaut on Latest Mars Mission

Longview, TX (KLTV) - For the eighth time we have landed a probe on Mars. Apparently we just can’t learn enough about the red planet.

East Texas News spoke with a former astronaut about what the mission will entail and what we hope to learn this time around.

Byron Lichtenberg has been around the block; in fact he’s been around the planet in a couple of space shuttle flights. Right now he’s content to orbit the sun with the rest of us and teach mechanical engineering at LeTourneau University.

He has a little insight to offer for the latest Mars Mission: InSight.

“This one is not really a rover; it’s more of a sitter,” I said.

“That’s correct. Yeah they’re looking at sitting in one spot and the object is to try to understand more about the genesis, the formation of Mars,” Lichtenberg stated.

He said NASA plans on drilling into Mars:

“Going down 16 feet. To look at temperature profiles and materials, They are also looking at seismology, so they’ve got these very, very sensitive instruments,” Lichtenberg said.

It’s not just to sense meteor strikes or marsquakes.

“By looking at the way these seismology waves travel, they can deduce more about the interior of Mars,” Lichtenberg revealed.

That has got be some sensitive equipment.

“This can pick up the vibration half the width of a hydrogen atom,” Lichtenberg said.

Well, that should tell us something then. Lichtenberg says it’s not just learning about Mars, it’s about learning of the formation of other rocky planets like Earth.

“Mars does not have a magnetic field any more, and they’re trying to understand how Mars developed and what things happened so that we can get more insight to what might happen in the future,” Lichtenberg explained.

So a former astronaut seems like the right guy to talk to about the InSight Mission, but there happens to be one other reason for Lichtenberg to be interviewed on November 28, 2018.

“Thirty-five years ago today, I launched off on my first space shuttle mission, STS number 9,” Lichtenberg revealed.

So the InSight wasn’t the only happy landing.

The InSight is expected to relay data back to Earth for at least two years.

Oh, and Lichtenberg will sort of have something to do with the next mission to Mars in 2020: His daughter is working on that project with NASA.

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