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]

The Northern Lights May be Visible in New York, Michigan, and Illinois on Saturday

iStock.com/den-belitsky
iStock.com/den-belitsky

The Northern Lights, a meteorological event most common to areas north of the Arctic Circle, may be visible over parts of America this weekend, Newsweek reports. Due to a solar storm, the light show may appear Saturday night over states in the northern part of the contiguous U.S., including New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington state.

Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, occur when solar particles react to gases in Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic energy exaggerates this effect, which is why auroras most often appear at the geomagnetic poles where Earth's magnetic field is strongest. Rare circumstances can produce this phenomenon at lower latitudes, which may be the case this weekend.

On Wednesday, March 20, a solar flare sent a blast of solar particles toward Earth. The resulting geomagnetic storm could make for a vibrant and colorful aurora reaching as far south as New York and Wisconsin.

To catch the spectacle, look up at the night sky on Saturday, March 23. People in areas with minimal light pollution have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though cloudy weather may make them hard to see.

[h/t Newsweek]

5 Fast Facts About the Spring Equinox

iStock.com/AHPhotoswpg
iStock.com/AHPhotoswpg

The northern hemisphere has officially survived a long winter of Arctic temperatures, bomb cyclones, and ice tsunamis. Spring starts March 20, which means warmer weather and longer days are around the corner. To celebrate the spring equinox, hear are some facts about the event.

1. The spring equinox arrives at 5:58 p.m.

The first day of spring is today, but the spring equinox will only be here for a brief time. At 5:58 p.m. Eastern Time, the Sun will be perfectly in line with the equator, which results in both the northern and southern hemispheres receiving equal amounts of sunlight throughout the day. After the vernal equinox has passed, days will start to become shorter for the Southern Hemisphere and longer up north.

2. The Equinox isn't the only time you can balance an egg.

You may have heard the myth that you can balance on egg on its end during the vernal equinox, and you may have even tried the experiment in school. The idea is that the extra gravitational pull from the Sun when it's over the equator helps the egg stand up straight. While it is possible to balance an egg, the trick has nothing to do with the equinox: You can make an egg stand on its end by setting it on a rough surface any day of the year.

3. Not every place gets equal night and day.

The equal night and day split between the northern and southern hemispheres isn't distributed evenly across all parts of the world. Though every region gets approximately 12 hours of sunlight the day of the vernal equinox, some places get a little more (the day is 12 hours and 15 minute in Fairbanks, Alaska), and some get less (it's 12 hours and 6 minutes in Miami).

4. The name means Equal Night.

The word equinox literally translates to equal ("equi") and night ("nox") in Latin. The term vernal means "new and fresh," and comes from the Latin word vernus for "of spring."

5. The 2019 spring equinox coincides with a supermoon.

On March 20, the day the Sun lines up with equator, the Moon will reach the closest point to Earth in its orbit. The Moon will also be full, making it the third supermoon of 2019. A full moon last coincided with the first day of spring on March 20, 1981, and it the two events won't occur within 24 hours of each other again until 2030.

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