NASA launches interplanetary mission to Mars
© Getty Images

NASA launched an unmanned spacecraft on Saturday that aims to land on Mars to conduct geologic excavations, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

The Mars InSight lander was launched, in a first for an interplanetary mission, from California rather than Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

The spacecraft will travel 300 million miles over more than six months to reach Mars.

InSight will dig nearly 16 feet into Mars — the deepest a spacecraft has ever dug into the red planet — and record the temperature. It will also attempt to measure marsquakes using a seismometer it will place on Mars’s surface, the AP reported.

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“This mission will probe the interior of another terrestrial planet, giving us an idea of the size of the core, the mantle, the crust and our ability then to compare that with the Earth,” NASA’s chief scientist Jim Green told the AP. “This is of fundamental importance to understand the origin of our solar system and how it became the way it is today.”

After two years — or one year on Mars — InSight is expected to provide a true 3-D image of Mars, according to the AP.

The mission cost more than $1 billion and involves scientists from the U.S., France, Germany and other European nations, the AP reported.

If the landing is a success, InSight will be the first spacecraft NASA has landed on Mars since the Curiosity rover in 2012.