Cheers, hugs as NASA's InSight lands on Mars

29 November, 2018, 08:01 | Author: Chad Warren
  • Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO)

NASA's online live broadcast reported InSight touched down on Mars at approximately 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT), after a six-month, 300-million-mile (480-million-km) journey. The satellite also shot back a quick photo from Mars' surface.

Experts say that is Mars' horizon visible in the top portion of the image. "This is really fantastic".

NASA went with its old, straightforward approach this time, using a parachute and braking engines to get InSight's speed from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) when it pierced the Martian atmosphere, about 77 miles (114 kilometres) up, to 5 mph (8kph) at touchdown. Radio signals confirming the landing took more than eight minutes to cross the almost 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) between Mars and Earth.

The spacecraft is NASA's first to touch down on Earth's neighboring planet since the Curiosity rover arrived in 2012.

Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the U.S., Russian Federation and other countries have been lost or destroyed over the years, with a success rate of just 40 per cent, not counting InSight.

Museums, planetariums and libraries across the USA held viewing parties to watch the events unfold at JPL. "It's such a hard thing, it's such a risky thing that there's always a fairly uncomfortably large chance that something could go wrong".

NASA scientists and engineers celebrate the landing of the InSight Mars probe.

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Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions. This means that we will be able to expect more insights about Mars by then. That's why scientists chose Elysium Planitia as InSight's home, according to NASA.

France's CNES made the SEIS instrument, while the German Aerospace Center (DLR) provided a self-hammering mole that can burrow 16 feet (five meters) into the surface - farther than any instrument before - to measure heat flow.

An ecstatic Philippe Laudet, the French Space Agency's project manager, said at JPL that now that the seismometer is on Mars, a "new adventure" is beginning.

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 Administrator Jim Bridenstine, presiding over his first Mars landing as the space agency's boss, said: "What an fantastic day for our country".

Still, there are no life detectors aboard InSight.

Not wanting to just sit around, InSight's mission begins immediately, starting with the collection of data and, in nearly two days' time, will deploy its 1.8-metre-long robotic arm to take more images of the landscape.

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