Mars InSight Lander shows off first image from Mars

27 November, 2018, 07:15 | Author: Rosalie Gross
  • NASA’s In Sight Spacecraft Successfully Touches Down on Mars		26 Nov 2018

Cheers and applause erupted at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday as a waist-high unmanned lander, called InSight, touched down on Mars, capping a almost seven-year journey from design to launch to landing.

The plan called for the spacecraft to go from 12,300 miles per hour (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat as it pierced the Martian atmosphere and settled on the surface. The lander brought along a collection of scientific instruments, including a seismometer, which will be placed 16 feet underground and send back to Earth the first data from the interior of the planet.

But that doesn't seem to have been the case here, and touchdown was confirmed at 19.50GMT causing NASA's mission control to burst into celebration.

What just happened? If you're a fan of all things Mars and space-related, we've got some good news for you.

Flight controllers announced that the spacecraft InSight touched down Monday, after a perilous supersonic descent through the red Martian skies.

The site is roughly 600km from the 2012 landing spot of the car-sized Mars rover Curiosity, the last spacecraft sent to the Red Planet by NASA.

The craft had a "perfect" landing following its journey to the red planet and is reported to be "working perfectly".

InSight's efforts have the potential to teach us valuable information about the formation of rocky planets in our solar system. InSight is equipped with two cameras: the one that produced this picture is on the main body of the spacecraft and captures fish-eye images, which maximizes the field of vision for close-up work. It will take two to three months for the robotic arm to place the mission's instruments on the surface.

Manning said the landing appeared to be flawless. The team was extremely happy with the landing, as you can see in the tweet below.

"In the coming months and years even, history books will be rewritten about the interior of Mars", said JPL's director, Michael Watkins.

Prior to the landing, project officials had hinted they were looking at options for an extended mission for MarCO, but were focused at the time on supporting the InSight landing. Together, those instruments will take measurements of Mars' vital signs, like its pulse, temperature and reflexes - which translates to internal activity like seismology and the planet's wobble as the sun and its moons tug on Mars.

The InSight probe aims to study the deep interior of Mars, and make it the only planet - apart from Earth - that has been examined in this way.

"We are solar-powered, so getting the arrays out and operating is a big deal", Hoffman said.

Indeed, by the time word of touchdown came from space just after 3 p.m. EST, InSight was already well settled on the western side of Elysium Planitia, the flat-as-a-parking-lot plain that NASA was aiming for.

InSight's first photo from the martian surface.

'This is a concern that there could be a problem on landing, so I will be excited when I know it's landed safely'.

Key to InSight's continued survival on the harsh surface of Mars is the deployment of its solar panels, which were stowed for the descent. First images appear to confirm this has been achieved.

Why was Mars chosen for landing?

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