NASA has not botched a Mars landing since December 1999, when the Polar Lander fell silent following its powered descent to Planum Australe. Then came the successes of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, the Phoenix lander and, in 2012, the bellwether Curiosity rover, which discovered organic materials and habitable environments on Mars.  Still, NASA downplayed the chances of InSight surviving atmospheric entry, descent and landing (EDL) on the wide, flat plains of Mars’ Elysium ...

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