The Latest: NASA spacecraft making descent to Mars

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the landing attempt by NASA’s InSight spacecraft at Mars (all times local):

2:47 p.m.

A NASA spacecraft is making a perilous supersonic descent through the atmosphere of Mars, following a six-month journey.

Flight controllers announced that the robotic geologist, InSight, entered the Martian atmosphere Monday afternoon. It should take about six minutes for InSight to get to the surface and land, slowed by a parachute and descent engines.

Updates are coming in via radio signals that take more than eight minutes to cross the nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) between Mars and Earth. The news is being relayed by a pair of mini satellites that have been following InSight since their May launch.

It is NASA’s ninth attempt to land at Mars since the 1976 Vikings. Only one failed.

NASA last landed on Mars in 2012 with the Curiosity rover.

12 p.m.

A NASA spacecraft is just a few hours away from landing on Mars.

The InSight lander is aiming for a Monday afternoon touchdown on what scientists and engineers hope will be a flat plain.

Everyone involved in the $1 billion international mission is understandably nervous. They say they’ve had trouble sleeping, and their stomachs are churning.

It’s risky business to descend through the Martian atmosphere and land, even for the U.S., the only country to pull it off. It would be NASA’s eighth landing on Mars.

3 a.m.

A NASA spacecraft’s six-month journey to Mars is nearing its dramatic grand finale.

The InSight lander aimed for a touchdown Monday afternoon, as anxiety built among those involved in the $1 billion international effort.

InSight’s perilous descent through the Martian atmosphere has stomachs churning and nerves stretched to the max. Although an old pro at this, NASA hasn’t attempted a landing at Mars for six years.

The robotic geologist — designed to explore Mars’ mysterious insides — must go from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) 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’s aiming for flat red plains, hopefully low on rocks.

Earth’s overall success rate at Mars is 40 percent.

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