NASA launches new Mars lander

Orbital ATK employees wearing protective clothing

Landers have explored the surface of Mars in unique ways, but InSight, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will be the first mission to peer beneath the surface and take the vital signs of the planet.

The Atlas V 401 rocket also carried two suitcase-size spacecraft, created to orbit Mars, as it blasted into the dark and cloudy sky, which turned bright gold for seconds as the rocket ascended in a plume of smoke.

"Depending on where you are in Southern California you'll be able to see the space craft at various points along its ascent as it heads off on its way to Mars", Tom Hoffman, a project manager with NASA, said at a March news conference at JPL.

A NASA official says the InSight probe will be important for future manned missions to Mars.

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This is significantly less than Credit Suisse's 2015 estimate that the scandal could end up costing as much as $87 billion . However, Winterkorn can escape facing trial in person by just remaining in his home country of Germany .

NASA launched its next Mars mission with a stationary lander InSight and for the first time carrying a payload of two CubeSats. It will be NASA's first deep-space mission sent from the West Coast.

Banerdt said Mars is ideal for learning how the rocky planets of our solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Nicknamed WALL-E and EVE from the 2008 animated movie, the twin briefcase-size spacecraft popped off the rocket's upper stage in hot pursuit of InSight, as elated launch controllers applauded and shook hands following the morning's success.

According to Nasa, the probe will burrow three to five metres into the crust of Mars when it lands in November - 15 times deeper than any other Martian mission. InSight is on its way to Mars. But it does have a 7.8-foot-long (2.4-meter) robotic arm. InSight will explore more of Mars than has ever been studied before.

"We were fortunate to have a great turnout at our Lompoc Airport for this historic Insight Mission to Mars launch", said Lompoc city spokeswoman Samantha Scroggin. "We're really looking forward to seeing them deployed and producing power on the surface of Mars".

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Scientists will try to use the frequent marsquakes over the course of the mission to deduce the depth, density and composition of the planet's core. Insight, on the other hand, will plant its seismometers in the ground. California was always part of the plan.

Once out over the Pacific, the rocket headed south along the California coast.

NASA normally flies from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but chose to switch coasts for InSight because of a smaller rocket backlog. - NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video tweeted Saturday by the space agency. "I think that probably generated some resentment in the community".

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the Nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider.

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