Scientists hope latest mission will shed light on the similar processes believed to have formed both planets 4.5bn years ago

Nasa’s first lander to Mars since 2012 is set to launch on Saturday morning from Vandenberg air force base in California. The InSight spacecraft aims to listen for quakes and unravel the mystery of how rocky planets such as Earth form. If all goes as planned it should land on Mars on 26 November.

Since the Earth and Mars were probably formed by similar processes 4.5bn years ago, the US space agency hopes the lander – officially known as Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) – will shed light on what made them so different.

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