NASA spacecraft successfully touches down on Mars

Ignacio Smith
November 27, 2018

NASA's InSight lander completed its seven-month interplanetary journey of almost 500 million kilometers in dramatic style on Monday, slamming into the Martian atmosphere at a speed of almost 20,000 kilometers per hour.

They checked and double-checked InSight's trajectory, aiming it toward a 6-by-15-mile keyhole in the Martian atmosphere that would guide the vehicle toward a carefully chosen landing spot on the ruddy surface.

The two satellites not only transmitted the good news in nearly real time, they also sent back InSight's first snapshot of Mars just 4 minutes after landing.

Members of the mission control team burst into applause and cheered in relief as they received data showing that the spacecraft had survived. The seismic waves marsquakes produce will be used by InSight to create a 3-D picture of Mars's interior-but they can also be used to study meteorites thudding into the surface.

A new space robot now calls Mars "home".

Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO)

InSight's first few moments and hours on the Red Planet won't be as eventful as the probe's nerve-wracking descent and landing.

NASA engineers Kris Bruvold (L) and Sandy Krasner react in the space flight operation facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as the spaceship InSight lands on the surface of Mars after a six-month journey, at JPL in Pasadena, California, U.S. November 26, 2018.

After years of preparation, NASA scientists successfully landed the InSight probe on Mars on Monday.

InSight's efforts have the potential to teach us valuable information about the formation of rocky planets in our solar system.

Nasa's Insight spacecraft is about to reach the most risky part of its journey from Earth to Mars.

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NASA officials say InSight's instruments should be up and running in about two or three months.

NASA reported that the lander sent a "safe" signal about eight minutes after touching down, confirming that the probe's systems were operating normally.

An artist's concept shows the InSight lander, its sensors, cameras and instruments.

InSight's two-year mission will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed.

Flight controllers at the United States space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leaped out of their seats and erupted in screams, applause and laughter as the news came in. A third experiment, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment or RISE, sits on the lander itself and will monitor the position of Mars' North Pole to determine how much the planet is wobbling.

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Since 1960, various national space agencies have made 44 similar attempts to land on Mars, but only 18 of those were completely successful, according to NASA.

"We are solar-powered, so getting the arrays out and operating is a big deal", Hoffman said.

InSight was shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas.

Squeee, first photo from InSight!

"I've just received confirmation that there are no rocks in front of the lander", he told AFP.

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"Every Mars landing is daunting, but now with InSight safely on the surface, we get to do a unique kind of science on Mars", JPL director Michael Watkins said.

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