Mars is about to get its first U.S. visitor in years.

FILE - In this May 4, 2018 photo provided by NASA, the mobile service tower is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Atlas-V rocket with NASA's InSight spacecraft onboard at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. NASA’s three-legged, one-armed geologist known as InSight makes its grand entrance through the rose-tinted Martian skies on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.  (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)
FILE – In this May 4, 2018 photo provided by NASA, the mobile service tower is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Atlas-V rocket with NASA’s InSight spacecraft onboard at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. NASA’s three-legged, one-armed geologist known as InSight makes its grand entrance through the rose-tinted Martian skies on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

NASA’s three-legged, one-armed geologist known as InSight makes its grand entrance through the rose-tinted Martian skies on Monday.

In this 2015 photo made available by NASA, a technician prepares the InSight spacecraft for thermal vacuum testing in its
In this 2015 photo made available by NASA, a technician prepares the InSight spacecraft for thermal vacuum testing in its “cruise” configuration for its flight to Mars, simulating the conditions of outer space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. NASA’s three-legged, one-armed geologist known as InSight makes its grand entrance through the rose-tinted Martian skies on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin via AP)

It will be the first American spacecraft to land since the Curiosity rover six years ago and the first dedicated to exploring underground.

This illustration made available by NASA shows the InSight lander after it has deployed its instruments on the Martian surface. NASA’s three-legged, one-armed geologist makes its grand entrance through the rose-tinted Martian skies on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)
This illustration made available by NASA shows the InSight lander after it has deployed its instruments on the Martian surface. NASA’s three-legged, one-armed geologist makes its grand entrance through the rose-tinted Martian skies on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

NASA is going with a tried-and-true method to get this mechanical miner to the surface of the red planet. Engine firings will slow its final descent and the spacecraft will plop down on its rigid legs, mimicking the landings of earlier successful missions.

Mars is about to get its first U.S. visitor in years: a three-legged, one-armed geologist designed to dig deep and stake out quakes. NASA's InSight makes its grand entrance on Monday after a six-month, 300 million-mile journey. (Nov. 20)
Mars is about to get its first U.S. visitor in years: a three-legged, one-armed geologist designed to dig deep and stake out quakes. NASA’s InSight makes its grand entrance on Monday after a six-month, 300 million-mile journey. (Nov. 20)

Eventually, the lander’s arm will remove the two main science experiments and place them directly on the Martian surface. One will attempt to dig down 16 feet. The other will listen for quakes.

Source: The Associated Press

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