On May 5, at 7:05 a.m., an Atlas V rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Ninety-three minutes later, the "Centaur" second stage of the rocket released NASA’s “Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport” (InSight) spacecraft on its 300-million-mile journey to Mars.
InSight is scheduled to touch down on the Red Plant’s “Elysium Planitia” on or about Nov. 26, and is planned to conduct science operations for nearly two (Earth) years.
The lander carries a seismometer, a domed, 65-pound device that will be placed on the Martian surface with a robotic arm. A seismometer measures vibration in a planet; this seismometer uses a set of additional instruments to fine-tune its measurements, including a pressure sensor.
That’s Don Banfield’s pressure sensor – that’s why he was at the launch and watching so closely as the rocket lifted off.