NASA's InSight Spacecraft, Safely on Mars, Snaps Some Pictures

Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu

Safely on Mars, InSight unfolds its arrays and snaps some pics

NASA Group Achievement Award-Mars Exploration Rover Avionics Team (2004); and the NASA Group Achievement Award-Mars Exploration Rover Flight System, Management and Engineering Team (2004) to name a few.

On Monday, history was made with the landing of the InSight spacecraft on Mars.

The touchdown was near Mars' equator on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava called Elysium Planitia, with a signal affirming a completed landing sequence at about 1.23 a.m. IST. And unlike the moon landing, they completed the most hard part of the mission - the speedy descent through the atmosphere, the deployment of parachute and lander legs and the eventual landing on the surface of Mars - all with their hands off the controls.

"Officially landed on Mars", Green Day said alongside a photo of the chip.

"WALL-E and EVE performed just as we expected them to", said MarCO chief engineer Andy Klesh of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which built the CubeSats.

What's next? Well, the team is going to deploy the lander's robotic arm and use the attached camera to click pics of the surroundings.

Signals indicating that its solar panels had opened and were collecting sunlight on the Martian surface were relayed to Earth by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter (launched in 2001 and now orbiting Mars), which were received at about 7.00 a.m. IST as expected.

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King said he thinks it'll be about three months before he sees any of InSight's data.

This is why the information InSight sends back about its landing site is crucial.

Tilman Spohn, principal investigator of the HP3 experiment, said, "our plan is to use these measurements to determine the temperature of Mars' interior and to characterize the current geological activity beneath its crust".

InSight will begin to collect science data within the first week after landing. "They were an excellent test of how CubeSats can serve as "tag-alongs" on future missions, giving engineers up-to-the-minute feedback during a landing".

"We had to break down the film to see exactly what they were doing".

"WALL-E sent some great postcards from Mars!" said Cody Colley of JPL, MarCO's mission manager, who led the work to program each CubeSat to take images. As MarCO-A flew by, it conducted some impromptu radio science, transmitting signals through the edge of Mars' atmosphere. "It's been exciting to see the view from nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) above the surface".

His desire to construct a spacecraft developed when he was growing up in Ghana. "It's given them valuable experience on every facet of building, testing and operating a spacecraft in deep space".

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