Studying Mars – level 3

06-12-2018 07:00

Another NASA probe successfully landed on Mars. It took it six months to travel the 480-million-kilometre journey and before touchdown, it had to slow down from its speed of 19,000 kilometres per hour.

Friction and drag during the descent through the upper Martian atmosphere began the initial slowdown, and before the rocket thrusters slowly landed the probe, a parachute brought it to a more manageable speed. The landing sequence took just six minutes and it was fully automated. People at NASA were delighted after their creation sent them a selfie.

The probe will be the first one to drill below the surface of the red planet. A so-called mole will be burrowed five metres down to measure the planet’s internal heat and a seismometer will listen for any “marsquakes”.

Difficult words: probe (an unmanned spacecraft), friction (the force which slows down an aircraft – it happens when air hits the aircraft), drag (a force which slows down aircraft), descent (the act of moving down), mole (a small black animal which lives underground), burrow (go under the ground), seismometer (a seismograph – a device which measures earthquakes).

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