Joy as NASA spacecraft touches down on Mars

29 November, 2018, 07:57 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • This illustration made available by NASA in October 2016 shows an illustration of NASA's In Sight lander about to land on the surface of Mars

The two satellites not only transmitted the good news nearly in real time, they also sent back InSight's first snapshot of Mars just 4.5 minutes after landing.

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

A burst of applause and cheers exploded at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Monday (26th November) as NASA's latest Mars lander, called InSight, touched down safely on the Red Planet and managed to send a picture back to Earth.

"Flawless", declared JPL's chief engineer, Rob Manning. "Sometimes things work out in your favor".

NASA's InSight lander touched down on Mars on Monday afternoon after a almost seven-month trip to the red planet.

A second instrument will burrow five metres into the ground of Mars, measuring the planet's temperature, while a third experiment will determine how Mars wobbles on its axis.

As the celebrations continued last night, NASA was eagerly awaiting the first photos to be sent from the surface by InSight.

InSight, a $1 billion global venture, reached the surface after going from 12,300 miles per hour (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat, using a parachute and braking engines. The danger was that the spacecraft could burn up in the atmosphere or bounce off it. That's why scientists chose Elysium Planitia as InSight's home, according to NASA.

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"The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries", said Tom Hoffman, InSight's project manager.
NASA TV coverage was also shown on the giant screen in New York's Times Square, where crowds huddled under umbrellas in the rain.

However, the two-year science mission will not start immediately.

"It's going to be awesome".

"It's been something that I have been working on for my whole professional career", Banerdt said.

Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator, has thought about studying the interior of Mars since his days as a graduate student roughly 40 years ago.

NASA is collaborating with several global scientists who will help analyse the interior of Mars, and Giardini said his team will look out for seismic events and meteoritic impact.

By examining and mapping the interior of Mars, scientists hope to learn why the rocky planets in our solar system turned out so different and why Earth became a haven for life.

InSight will detect geophysical signals deep below the Martian surface, including marsquakes and heat. NASA's next mission, the Mars 2020 rover, will prowl for rocks that might contain evidence of ancient life.

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