How to Watch NASA's Live Stream of the InSight Mars Landing

Artist's depiction of NASA's InSight lander parachuting toward the surface of Mars.
Artist's depiction of NASA's InSight lander parachuting toward the surface of Mars.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

The InSight Lander will touch down on Mars today, November 26, concluding its seven-month journey from Earth. For space fans looking for a way to watch the event, NASA will be streaming it live on its website between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET, Live Science reports.

InSight (which stands for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport") launched off an Atlas V rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, making it NASA's first interplanetary mission to leave from somewhere other than Florida's Space Coast.

After covering 91 million miles of the solar system, the Insight Lander is set to make contact with the Red Planet's Elysium Planitia. The smooth, flat plain won't be as exciting to look at as Mars's mountains and canyons, but it will serve as an ideal setting for InSight's mission. Using a heat probe and seismometers, the lander will map the interior of Mars over the next two years, giving NASA scientists the best picture of the geological history of the planet they've had up to this point.

But before InSight can start collecting data, it must successfully reach the planet's surface. The lander will break through the Martian atmosphere and parachute to the ground—a process that should take about six minutes—between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET today, and you can watch the landing live on NASA TV. You can also stream it on Space.com.

The feed isn't expected to be the clearest, so NASA will be waiting on a radio signal from the craft to determine if the landing was successful. If it makes it to Mars intact, InSight will begin mapping the interior of the planet within the next several months.

[h/t Live Science]

A Lunar Crash May Have Left Behind a Library of Human Civilization on the Moon

Matt Cardy, Getty Images
Matt Cardy, Getty Images

SpaceIL, the Israeli-based private space travel nonprofit backed by billionaire Morris Kahn, came up short in their attempt to land the first commercial payload ever delivered on the Moon. Their Beresheet lander crashed last Thursday, April 11, after a technical glitch prompted its engine to power off and then back on, causing it to come in too fast and strike the lunar surface.

While not ultimately successful, the voyage may have still managed to mark a milestone in the history of lunar exploration. The Arch Mission Foundation, which worked with SpaceIL to put a massive amount of information—including the entirety of Wikipedia—on board, announced this week that the digital library may have survived the impact. That would make it the first substantial repository of knowledge to occupy the Moon.

The data, which was dubbed the Lunar Library, holds an impressive wealth of material—the equivalent of roughly 30 million pages in all. In addition to Wikipedia, there are books selected by Project Gutenberg, 60,000 images, language keys, and a curated selection of music. All of this humanity was packed into 25 nickel discs that are each 40 microns thick. The entire library is roughly the size and shape of a DVD.

Arch Mission Foundation believes that the discs could have survived the impact based on what's known about its trajectory and the crash and is working to confirm its existence. Even if it didn't, there's still something to be said for the idea that "archaeological ruins" of human knowledge now exist there.

The Lunar Library wouldn't be the only human relic left behind. Alan Shepard, the fifth man ever to walk on the Moon in 1971, left golf balls after playing a lunar round. In 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 left a 1.5-inch silicon disk containing goodwill messages from prominent figures in 75 countries written microscopically.

SpaceIL intends to pursue a second lunar lander, with a launch date to be announced. While other countries have landed a vehicle on the Moon—the United States, China, and Russia—this would have marked the first time for a private entity.

[h/t Fast Company]

A Blue Moon—May's Flower Moon—Is Coming Next Month

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Exactly how often is "once in a blue moon"? According to NASA, the celestial occurrence isn't especially rare: A blue moon happens about once every 2.5 years. The next blue moon will appear the night of May 18, 2019, and because the event marks the first full moon of May, it will also be a flower moon.

What Is a Blue Moon?

Instead of describing color, like a blood moon, the term blue moon is reserved for an additional full moon that appears within a certain window of time. There are two types of blue moons: monthly blue moons and seasonal blue moons. A monthly blue moon, the more popular of the two definitions, is the second full moon that occurs in a single calendar month. This usage is fairly recent, and likely originated from an error printed in a 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.

A seasonal blue moon is the older meaning, and it describes the third moon in a season that has four full moons. Each season—winter, spring, summer, and fall—typically sees three full moons, and in the rare event there are four, the third is singled out as the anomaly. This is sometimes the preferred definition of astronomy-minded people because it's based on natural equinoxes and solstices rather than the Gregorian calendar.

When to See the Blue Flower Moon

The full moon set to light up the night sky in May will be a seasonal blue moon. The time of year it occurs—May—makes it a flower moon. The first full moon of each month has a special name: A worm moon is a full moon in April, and a wolf moon is a full moon in January.

To catch 2019's blue flower moon, look up the night of May 18. The Moon will be at its fullest when it's precisely at 180° ecliptic longitude opposite the Sun—which occurs at 5:11 p.m. ET on May 18.

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