NASA launched its InSight spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 4:05 a.m. local time Saturday, sending the unmanned vessel on a six-month journey to Mars.
Unlike the Curiosity rover, InSight will not travel around the red planet once it arrives. Instead, the craft's mission is to use seismic waves to learn about the interior of Mars — the thickness of the planet's crust and the size of its liquid core. InSight is equipped with a probe that can burrow 16 feet into the surface of Mars to take temperature readings.
"Mars is a unique opportunity," said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight mission's chief investigator. "We call it the Goldilocks planet."