(Source: NASA/Twitter)

NASA Launches Mars InSight Probe on Journey to Study Red Planet

(Bloomberg) -- NASA launched a space probe early Saturday on a mission to study Mars, helping to fill large gaps in scientists’ understanding of the planet’s geologic structure, composition and seismic activity.

An Atlas V rocket carrying Mars InSight roared into the pre-dawn skies at 4:05 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. It is NASA’s first deep-space mission sent from the West Coast.

NASA Launches Mars InSight Probe on Journey to Study Red Planet

Mars InSight is the first NASA mission to study the red planet’s interior -- or, as the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory phrases it, “the vital signs of Mars.” InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.

The 794-pound lander, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., is set to touch down on Nov. 26 after a six-month cruise and six-minute re-entry and descent -- the most perilous aspect of the journey.

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