InSight: Mission to the heart of Mars

Hold on to your seats. Nasa's InSight lander is nearing Mars. Touching down safely is going to be really tricky.

GERRY FLETCHER

The challenge starts. The lander's capsule separates from the spacecraft that carried it to the Red Planet.

GERRY FLETCHER

InSight enters the atmosphere at six times the speed of a high-velocity bullet. The heatshield had better work!

GERRY FLETCHER

Still too fast! Out comes a parachute. Insight is 11km above the ground and is moving at 1,400km/h.

GERRY FLETCHER

Insight is now slowing rapidly. Phew! Just under three minutes to touchdown. Time to get rid of the heatshield.

GERRY FLETCHER

Now comes a really important bit. InSight extends its legs and pulses a radar to sense the approaching ground.

GERRY FLETCHER

Final phase. Dump the parachute and fire up some reverse rockets to slow Insight's descent to near walking pace.

GERRY FLETCHER

Wow! That's quite a ride. From the top of Mars' atmosphere to the surface - 20,000km/h to zero in 6.5 minutes.

GERRY FLETCHER

No time to relax, though. InSight opens its solar panels to generate power. It can't live for long on batteries.

GERRY FLETCHER

InSight begins work by checking out its surroundings. A place called Elysium Planitia. It should be very flat.

GERRY FLETCHER

A robot arm puts instruments on the surface. Seismometers to listen for 'Marsquakes', and a burrowing heat probe.

GERRY FLETCHER

InSight's quest is to build a picture of Mars interior to compare its structure and history with Earth.

GERRY FLETCHER