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Hancock College to host viewing of NASA InSight Mission to Mars

Allan Hancock College is hosting a free public viewing of the historic landing of the NASA InSight Mission to Mars at its Marian Theater on the Santa Maria campus.

A live video feed of the landing provided by NASA will be shown on a big screen in the Marian Theater between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m on Monday, November 26.

The InSight robot lander was launched aboard an Atlas Rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in May.

According to NASA, InSight will be the first mission to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for “marsquakes”, which are seismic events similar to earthquakes on Earth.

Central Coast contractors like Helical Products Co./MW Industries Inc. in Santa Maria and California Fine Wire Co. of Grover Beach have manufactured components for NASA missions.

The InSight Mission to Mars is part of NASA’s Discovery Program and is expected to generate interest in space exploration much like the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs did a generation ago.

“It is a great field trip and we can seat hundreds of people so we would love it if K-12, younger students come out and learn about this”, said Lauren Milbourne with Allan Hancock College.

In addition to the live video feed provided by NASA, Allan Hancock College will have experts on hand to give discussion and commentary including Brian H. Day from NASA Solar System Exploration Research Institute and Hancock astronomy professor Vince Tobin.

“That’s the really cool thing about it is that it’s happening in real time and we’re going to see live inside NASA Mission Control and how all these people are handling this landing”, Milbourne said, “it’s an incredible learning experience for our students to be able to see something like this in real time and it might not ever happen again in their lifetimes.”

Only 40 percent of the missions Mars, by any space agency, have been successful.

The U.S. is the only nation whose missions have survived a Mars landing.

Since 1965, NASA has flown by, orbited, landed on and roved across the surface of Mars.

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