If and when it arrives on Mars it will drill down into the surface of the planet, to measure the internal temperature. The goal of the instrument is to provide a definitive measurement of the heat still flowing out from the interior of Mars.
- At 1947 GMT the spacecraft is hurtling through space at a speed of 12,300 miles per hour (19,800 kilometers per hour) as it begins to enter Mars' atmosphere.
While Earth's tectonics and other forces have erased most evidence of its early history, much of Mars - about one-third the size of Earth - is believed to have remained largely static, creating a geologic time machine for scientists.
An uninterrupted, clean feed from cameras inside JPL Mission Control, with mission audio only, will be available on the NASA TV Media Channel.
An artist's depiction of InSight - short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
Viewings of the televised activity inside the JPL control room were held coast to coast at museums, planetariums and libraries, as well as New York's Times Square.
While it takes eight minutes seven seconds for a radio signal to reach earth from Mars and the entire landing sequence from entry to landing takes approximately seven minutes, earth viewers will still be awaiting entry over a minute after the actual touchdown occurs.
"We've studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry", said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
A successful entry, descent and landing (EDL) on Mars of the US spacecraft InSight will be largely decided by the two events of parachute deployment and radar lock-up, chief scientist of the Mars lander Bruce Banerdt said Sunday.
"I'm incredibly happy to be in a very safe and boring landing location", said project manager Tom Hoffman. The final stage of its descent, however, is fraught with difficulty - NASA engineers characterize landing on Mars as "seven minutes of terror". The spacecraft will be landing on Elysium Planitia, a large volcanic plain stretching north of Mars' equator.
Unlike NASA's rovers, InSight is a lander created to study an entire planet from just one spot.
You can expect to see a lot of interviews and background videos during the early part of the coverage, leading up to shots of anxious engineers milling around at JPL's Mission Control as the appointed time nears.
This illustration shows a simulated view of NASA's InSight lander descending on its parachute toward the surface of Mars. As seismic waves ripple through, they will be distorted by changes in the materials they encounter - plumes of molten rock or reservoirs of liquid water - revealing what's under the planet's surface. In 2012, there were similar events to celebrate the Mars Curiosity rover's landing. The legs and suspension gently absorb the remainder settling InSight down for a mission that is planned to last until at least November 24, 2020.
This is the first time NASA has used a robotic arm to place instruments on the surface of Mars, and the agency wants to be careful.
Unlike InSight, the MarCO probes won't stop at Mars. This, in turn, can help us understand how rocky planets formed.