NASA’s InSight Lander Successfully Lands on Mars; Survives 7 Minutes of Terror

NASA’s InSight Lander Successfully Lands on Mars; Survives 7 Minutes of Terror

NASA’s InSight Lander Successfully Lands on Mars; Survives 7 Minutes of Terror

The NASA Mars probe InSight has successfully unfurled its solar panels, a key step in its ability to operate on the Red Planet.

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.

According to Bruce Banerdt, the InSight mission's lead scientist: "Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration".

At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory control room in California, engineers jumped, wept and hugged as the data was transmitted back to Earth - on an eight-minute delay.

It is noted that the InSight mission will last two years, this time he will collect data about the internal structure and composition of Mars.

Sight Mars lander sent back
Sight Mars lander sent back

In the following days, NASA's InSight is expected to conduct a self-audit of all its scientific instruments on board, and survey the martian surface for an optimal site to deploy these instruments. These same processes shaped Earth and the other terrestrial planets more than 4 billion years ago.

The InSight lander is expected to touch down within hours, as anxiety builds among those involved in the $1 billion global effort.

It was NASA's - indeed, humanity's - eighth successful landing at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes, and the first in six years. InSight's surface-operations phase began a minute after touchdown. "InSight will study the interior of Mars and will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars". NASA's Odyssey probe, orbiting Mars, will be used later today to check that's the case. During the entry, descent and landing phase, the probe was tracked for the first time with a pair of small satellites the size of briefcases created to send data signals back to Earth more quickly. "This accomplishment represents the ingenuity of America and our worldwide partners, and it serves as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of our team", he said.

A number of European partners, including France's Centre National d' Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), have supported the InSight mission.

"Mars is on the cusp between being an active planet and a dead planet, in terms of its capacity to evolve", Bibring says. NASA hasn't committed to a MarCO-like mission for its next Mars lander, the Mars 2020 rover, but Klesh said the success of MarCO has opened the door to that and other uses of smallsats in deep space.

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