A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT) from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, Mars lander. InSight will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface. It will study the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listen for marsquakes.
InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will be the first lander or rover bound for Mars since Curiosity launched in 2011. It will also be the first to dig deep into the planet’s interior in an effort to understand how the planet’s geology evolved over billions of years. The probe will scan for seismic activity, keeping tabs on the planet’s so-called “marsquakes.”