NASA’s InSight spacecraft lands on Mars after six-month journey

27 November, 2018, 07:16 | Author: Kristi Owen
  • Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO)

During its descent towards the martian surface, the probe first entered Mars' atmosphere 80 miles (129 km) above the surface.

Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles said the successful landing was confirmed by signals relayed to Earth from one of two miniature satellites that were launched along with InSight and flying past Mars when it arrived shortly before 3pm EST (4am Singapore time).

InSight, or Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is going to explore a part of Mars that we know the least about: its deep interior.

It was NASA's - indeed, humanity's - eighth successful landing at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes, and the first in six years.

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

The InSight mission team waited and "watched" for the probe's landing by monitoring InSight's radio signals with radio telescopes on Earth and a variety of spacecraft, according to a NASA statement. It was the first time the U.S. space agency tried to land a spacecraft on Mars since 2012, when the Curiosity rover arrived, and its eighth successful overall.

"Here's a quick-and-dirty attempt at processing out distortion in the first image from InSight", Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor at the Planetary Society, wrote on Twitter. It will take two to three months for the robotic arm to place the mission's instruments on the surface.

"What a relief", Manning said. And Tuesday night, the Mars Odyssey orbiter should confirm that the spacecraft's solar arrays have unfurled.


A second instrument, furnished by Germany's space agency, consists of a drill to burrow as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground, pulling behind it a rope-like thermal probe to measure heat flowing from inside the planet.

American space agency Nasa's 814 million dollar (£633 million) two-year mission aims to shine new light on how the Red Planet was formed and its deep structure, by mapping its core, crust and mantle.

The British seismic measuring tool will help scientists understand the inside of Mars, which has not yet been studied in depth.

"It was intense, and you could feel the emotion, it was very quiet when it was time to be quiet and of course very celebratory with every little new piece of information that was received", said Jim Bridenstine, Nasa administrator.

An artist's concept shows the InSight lander, its sensors, cameras and instruments. 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. In order to become fully functional, it still has to deploy its solar panels.

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.

The lander safely touched down on its dusty landing site of Elysium Planitia, near the Red Planet's equator, a region scientists refer to as "vanilla"-not because it is boring per se but because it is flat and free of rocky obstacles that could damage the lander".

Why was Mars chosen for landing?

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