NASA’s InSight probe successfully lands on Mars and deploys solar panels

Mars InSight mission: What Nasa's trip to Red Planet aims to discover

NASA Has Landed On Mars

Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) watches a replay of the celebration with Michael Watkins, JPL Director, Project Manager Tom Hoffman and scientists Bruce Banerdt and Andrew Klesh after the landing of the spacecraft InSight on the surface of Mars in Pasadena, California, U.S. November 26, 2018. It survived a fiery "6 minutes of terror", during which Earthbound NASA engineers waited in blindness as their craft pierced the Martian atmosphere and hurtled toward the surface.

A pair of mini satellites trailing InSight since their May liftoff provided practically real-time updates of the spacecraft's supersonic descent through the reddish skies.

It will take weeks for InSight to get started on its primary work, and months to years for the mission to get solid science results about the interior of Mars, but that is the kind of mission that we've signed on to with this lander. The self-hammering mole will burrow five metres down to measure the planet's internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.

Touchdown on Mars NASA's InSight lander has endured nearly seven months in space, traveling over 300 million miles (480 million kilometers) in a carefully calculated path from Earth to Mars.

Now that the landing part is over, the team needs to check that the solar arrays have opened up sufficiently to get the spacecraft fully up and running. It will jackhammer into the surface and extend its heat probe first to determine the Martian temperature, before staying still on the surface collecting data.

InSight's landing and all that follows from here on is the kind of knowledge base that can change the world's science textbooks forever.

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The robot will spend 24 months, which is the equivalent of about one Martian year, using seismic monitoring and underground drilling to observe seismic waves bouncing around the planet. Less than a minute later, InSight cut its parachute free and its 12 retrorockets fired, providing the probe with an additional braking force and allowing it to settle neatly onto the planet's surface.

"Mars is on the cusp between being an active planet and a dead planet, in terms of its capacity to evolve", Bibring says. Up to now, the success rate at the red planet was only 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russian Federation and other countries since 1960.

Viewings were held coast to coast at museums, planetariums and libraries, as well as New York's Times Square.

"What an awesome day for our country", said Jim Bridenstine, presiding over his first Mars landing as NASA's boss.

Still, there are no life detectors aboard InSight.

InSight landed at Elysium Planitia, the "biggest parking lot on Mars", and its mission for the next two years will be to explore the inside of Mars and "deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system".

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