Nasa’s most recent Mars craft is getting ready to land for an unprecedented seismic mission.

Nasa’s first spacecraft meant to investigate the deep innards of another globe sped toward a landing on a huge, barren plain on Mars slated for Monday, carrying instruments to detect planetary heat and seismic rumblings never observed anywhere other than Earth.

The robotic lander InSight was set to touchdown on the dusty, rock-strewn surface of Mars at around 8 p.m. GMT after a six-month journey through deep space that took it 301 million miles (548 million kilometres).

If all goes according to plan, InSight will scream into the thin Martian atmosphere at 12,000 mph (19,310 kilometres per hour). InSight will fall 77 miles through pink Martian skies to the surface in 6 1/2 minutes, travelling at only 5 mph (8 kph) by the time it lands, slowed by friction, the deployment of a huge parachute, and retro rockets.

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The stationary probe, which was launched from California in May, will then take a 16-minute break to allow the dust to settle around its landing spot before disc-shaped solar panels are unfurled like wings to provide electricity to the spacecraft.

The mission control team at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles is hoping to get real-time confirmation of the craft’s arrival via data provided by a pair of miniature satellites launched alongside InSight and flying past Mars.

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