NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Successfully Touches Down on Mars

27 November, 2018, 07:15 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • InSight Is Catching Rays On Mars Says NASA

The suspenseful landing, which followed what engineers described as "seven minutes of terror" as the robot rapidly decelerated from 12,300 to 5 miles per hour, is NASA's first such landing attempt on the Red Planet in six years. Though the landing came off flawlessly, with telemetry data and the first image coming back within seconds of touchdown, the most important question remained.

Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles burst into cheers, applause and hugs as they received signals confirming InSight's arrival on Martian soil - a vast, barren plain near the planet's equator - shortly before 3 pm EST (2000 GMT).

After months in space, the NASA InSight probe has successfully touched down on Mars.

NASA's InSight spacecraft opens a window into the "inner space" of Mars.

InSight also shared the first picture from Mars on Twitter saying: "My lens cover isn't off yet, but I just had to show you a first look at my new home". Now that the dust has settled, NASA can focus on the lander's future as a scientific gold mine that will give Mars an unprecedented internal examination to better understand heretofore hidden details of the world's origins and history.

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NASA's InSight Mars lander captured this view of its surroundings shortly after touching down on the Red Planet on November 26, 2018.

Nasa's Insight spacecraft is about to reach the most unsafe part of its journey from Earth to Mars. InSight has been equipped with the tools necessary to do just that, and it'll spend the next two to three months setting up that hardware. "But even after landing, we'll need to be patient for the science to begin", Bruce Banerdt of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, InSight's principal investigator, said in a statement.

The InSight team has chosen a "boring" spot for the landing because they want the probe's two primary instruments, a sensitive seismometer and an underground temperature probe to be undisturbed - to measure the tiniest fluctuations in the planet's interior. InSight followed up its brief hello with an image of the landing site.

The pioneering mission will also mark a milestone in this nation's space industry because it could be the very first time British technology has survived a journey to the Red Planet.

It was NASA's ninth attempt to land at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes.

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"The UK scientists and engineers involved in this mission have committed several years of their lives to building the seismometer on board, and the descent is always a worrying time".

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

Meanwhile, a radio transmitter will send back signals tracking Mars' subtle rotational wobble to reveal the size of the planet's core and possibly whether it remains molten.

He said that it was hard to tell from the first photo whether there were any slopes nearby, but that it appeared he got the flat, smooth "parking lot" he was hoping for. While InSight slowed itself with its parachute, it was too heavy to reach a safe landing speed.

"Every Mars landing is daunting, but now with InSight safely on the surface, we get to do a unique kind of science on Mars", JPL director Michael Watkins said.

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