Mars landing looms for NASA; anxiety building a day out

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — With just a day to go, NASA’s InSight spacecraft is aiming for a bull’s-eye touchdown on Mars.

The journey of six months and 300 million miles (482 million kilometers) comes to a precarious grand finale Monday afternoon.

The robotic geologist named InSight must go from 12,300 mph (19,800 kilometers) to zero in six minutes flat, as it pierces the Martian atmosphere, pops out a parachute, fires its descent engines and lands on three legs.

It is NASA’s first attempt to land on Mars in six years, and anxiety is building.

Earth’s overall success rate at Mars is 40 percent. But the U.S. has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past three decades. With only one failed touchdown, it’s an enviable record. InSight could hand NASA its eighth win.

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