Mars getting 1st US visitor in years, a 3-legged geologist

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Mars is about to get its first U.S. visitor in years.

NASA’s three-legged, one-armed geologist known as InSight makes its grand entrance through the rose-tinted Martian skies on Monday.

It will be the first American spacecraft to land since the Curiosity rover six years ago and the first dedicated to exploring underground.

NASA is going with a tried-and-true method to get this mechanical miner to the surface of the red planet. Engine firings will slow its final descent and the spacecraft will plop down on its rigid legs, mimicking the landings of earlier successful missions.

Eventually, the lander’s arm will remove the two main science experiments and place them directly on the Martian surface. One will attempt to dig down 16 feet. The other will listen for quakes.

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