Mars InSight: Seven Minutes to Touchdown • 2018

Category: Astronomy

The fate of the Mars InSight lander will all come down to a fiery seven-minute freefall into the Red Planet. Will it survive and reveal new insight into our planetary neighbour, or will the atmosphere of Mars prove to be too much for our new planetary explorer?

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For many years our place in the universe was the subject of theologians and philosophers, not scientists, but in 1960 one man changed all that. Dr Frank Drake was one of the leading lights in the new science of radio astronomy when he did something that was not only revolutionary, but could have cost him his career. Working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenback in Virginia, he pointed one of their new 25-metre radio telescopes at a star called Tau Ceti twelve light years from earth, hoping for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.


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The birth of our Solar System was both violent and chaotic. As planets formed around our Sun, gravity and luck determined their fate: some are tossed into the Sun, others thrown into interstellar space, never to return. It is survival of the fittest, on an interplanetary scale.

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