During the probe's Entry, Descent, and Landing phase, it will enter the martian atmosphere at a speed of about 12,300 miles per hour (5.5 kilometers per second), with its heat shield reaching up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Celsius) as the lander stays a comfortable room temperature inside its encapsulated descent stage. It will fly through the Martian air at an initial speed of 12,300 miles per hour, and it must hit the atmosphere at an angle of precisely 12 degrees.
Add to that the fact that fewer than half of all attempted Mars landings have ended successfully, and it makes for a nerve-wracking seven minutes, with engineers blind to the process until it is complete.
To mark the occasion, NASA will be livestreaming the event on its dedicated TV channel, through its website and on its social media platforms. InSight is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
This explains why the descent will prove to be nerve-racking minutes of terror for Nasa, because the mission managers will have little idea about how the spacecraft will be faring in real time, given the lag in receiving signals.
Earth's success rate at Mars is just 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the US, Russia and other countries dating back to 1960. InSight takes 360-panoramic images in all directions at this landing site.
NASA's InSight team will be monitoring the Mars lander's radio signals using various spacecrafts and radio telescopes.
Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division at Nasa, said: "Once InSight is settled on the Red Planet and its instruments are deployed, it will start collecting valuable information about the structure of Mars' deep interior - information that will help us understand the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including the one we call home".
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- The orbital pattern of the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, flying overhead, means NASA won't know until 0135 GMT on Tuesday if InSight's solar arrays have deployed or not.
It's far from a given that InSight will land safely.
Zurbuchen described InSight as "unique" because the waist-high lander contains instruments that were contributed by several European space agencies. As seismic waves ripple through, they will be distorted by changes in the materials they encounter - plumes of molten rock or reservoirs of liquid water - revealing what's under the planet's surface. There are two almost identical MarCO spacecraft that launched with InSight last May and have been trailing the probe on its flight to Mars. France and Germany have contributed about $180m for SEIS and HP³ respectively.
NASA's last Martian landfall took place with the Curiosity rover in 2012, so interest in the mission was heating up, with viewing parties planned at museums, planetariums and libraries across the US. The probe will detect how much heat energy is flowing out of the planet, and where the heat is coming from, expanding our knowledge of how the planet formed and evolved.
Over the course of about 30 days it will measure the heat flow from the planet's interior for the first time.
InSight is the first dedicated to unlocking secrets from deep below the Martian surface.
InSight's science mission won't begin right away.