How to watch Monday's InSight landing on Mars from anywhere

This artist's concept shows the sky-crane maneuver during the descent of NASA's Mars 2020 rover

This artist's concept shows the sky-crane maneuver during the descent of NASA's Mars 2020 rover

A spacecraft that cost almost a billion dollars is on course to make a perilous landing on Mars today U.S. time, if it can survive a high-speed approach and the scorching heat of entering the Red Planet's atmosphere, a process Nasa has nicknamed "six and a half minutes of terror". The lander will spend 24 months - about one Martian year - using seismic monitoring and underground drilling to gather clues on how Mars formed and, by extension, the origins of Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system more than 4 billion years ago.

According to NASA, it is the first outer space robotic explorer created to give the billions-years-old Mars a "thorough checkup" by studying its crust, mantle and core.

What we will see, with a lag-time of about 8 minutes due to the distance between Mars and Earth, is the team in the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) Control Center, receiving the messages that InSight sends back from Mars.

It can take up to 20 minutes for the spacecraft's signals to reach Earth, leaving mission planners in limbo to find out if everything went according to plan.

"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands", said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. The lander will be broadcasting information during entry, descent and landing in the UHF band to NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which can not simultaneously receive in one band and transmit in another.

Together, these instruments will use physics to study geological processes, said Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We have 12 small descent engines grouped around the bottom of the lander that are providing the thrust to slow us down the final kilometer".

InSight is landing in what seems to bea very boring part of Mars, known as Elysium Planitia.

- At 11:40 am Pacific time (1940 GMT), the spacecraft separates from the cruise stage that carried it to Mars.

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Even though the NASA engineers have given InSight everything it needs for a safe landing, there could be unforeseen circumstances that cause a failure.

The heat shield soars to a temperature of 2,700 Fahrenheit (about 1,500 Celsius).

15 seconds later: Six explosive charges blow off the spacecraft's heat shield.

But then, the spacecraft's thrusters begin to fire, further slowing down the 800-pound (365 kilogram) spacecraft to a speed of just about 5 miles per hour (8 kph) when it reaches the surface. InSight will send a tone back to Earth at 15:01 EST to indicate it is safely down.

Here's a minute-by-minute look at the biggest moments of InSight's landing sequence - any of which could doom the robot.

- At 1951 GMT, the parachutes deploy. Radio telescopes in Green Bank, West Virginia and Effelsberg, Germany will be listening.

The reason real-time control isn't possible is because it takes a radio signal approximately eight minutes to travel from Earth to Mars.

InSight is the first dedicated to unlocking secrets from deep below the Martian surface. And those CubeSats? A snip at around $18.5m.

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