Mars InSight Lander Successfully Touches Down on The Red Planet
The Mars InSight Lander has successfully touched down on the red planet. At 2:40 p.m. EST today the lander separated from the cruise stage that carried the mission to Mars, six and a half minutes later the Lander made contact.
It was then able to complete its pre-programmed actions to land safely on Mars where it sent back confirmation to Earth via the experimental MarCO satellites.
Our @NASAInSight spacecraft stuck the #MarsLanding!— NASA (@NASA) November 26, 2018
Its new home is Elysium Planitia, a still, flat region where it’s set to study seismic waves and heat deep below the surface of the Red Planet for a planned two-year mission. Learn more: https://t.co/fIPATUugFo pic.twitter.com/j0hXTjhV6I
NASA now waits for confirmation from Lander
Despite a safe landing NASA now needs to wait for about five and a half hours until they get full confirmation that the Landers solar sails unfurled successfully and that all systems are working.
Once confirmed InSight can begin its mission of studying the deep interior of Mars. NASA hopes that by learning more about Mars we will begin to understand more about how other rocky planets formed.
The Insight Lander sent back an image from the Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on its robot arm not long after it touched down. Teh image was relayed from InSight to Earth via NASA's Odyssey spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars.
Lander to head deep under Mars surface
Unlike other Mars missions that have examined the surface of Mars InSight will go deep into the surface of Mars and take measurements from the interior of the planet. This information will help provide scientists with a rash of new data that will be examined by teams all over the world.
Both Mars and Earth were created from the same ancient materials 4.5 billion years ago but then went on to have very different forms and atmospheres. Understanding Mars may help scientists in the search for other Earth-like planets in our solar system.
Massive success for NASA
NASA chose for Insight to land on Elysium Planitia, a flat quiet area of Mars so Insight can work smoothly and quietly during its mission. The mission marks a huge success for NASA.
Only about 40 percent of the missions ever sent to Mars have ever been successful. Mars has an incredibly thin atmosphere which means there is very little friction to help slow down a spacecraft.
The InSight lander comes from a good family though. In 2008, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory landed the Phoenix spacecraft near Mars’ North Pole.
InSight is based on the successful Phoenix design, both spacecraft were built by Lockheed Martin. People all over the world watched the Mars InSight lander make history.
Watching parties tweeted photos of themselves from classrooms, workplaces, and lounge rooms.
We're LIVE in the Museum's Hall of the Universe to watch @NASAInSight's #MarsLanding! First: Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart shows a real-time simulation of Mars using OpenSpace (open-source interactive data viz software designed by a team that includes @AMNH)! pic.twitter.com/kDfzhRbeYG— American Museum of Natural History (@AMNH) November 26, 2018