NASA tour stops at Discovery Museum ahead of InSight lander launch

Posted in: Santa Maria Times

As excitement and anticipation build for Saturday’s historic launch of the Mars InSight Lander, children from the Santa Maria Valley and beyond had the chance Wednesday morning to learn from the scientists and engineers directly involved in making it possible.

Stopping at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museumas part of NASA’s Mars InSight Roadshow, a multi-stop tour of California cities, members of InSight’s mission and science teams were on hand to field questions while children played and learned about the scope of the mission from family-friendly science activities.

The Roadshow will return to the Discovery Museum on Thursday morning and head to Hancock College on Friday night for its annual Friday Night Science event.

 “I’ve been able to explain it to my own kids,” said InSight’s Flight Systems Engineer Brian Bone, “which is beneficial to being at a museum like this. I try and make it simple and relate it to things they know or have seen on Earth.”

The first-of-its-kind mission will provide researchers a glimpse of the red planet’s geophysics, in hopes of offering a better understanding of how terrestrial planets form.

“It was important to this mission to engage students and the public in the data,” said seismologist Tammy Bravo. Employed by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology consortium, one of InSight’s educational partners, Bravo said she will help develop curriculum for students to engage with the forthcoming data.

To better understand how internal processes shape the surface, a specially designed probe will bore 16 feet into the planet to measure the heat flow from the core. Seismic data from marsquakes and meteorite strikes will be collected by a seismograph and transmitted back to Earth, allowing scientists to discern the composition of the Martian planet’s layers and core.

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