Cheers as spacecraft lands on Red Planet

Cheers as spacecraft lands on Red Planet

These initial images are grainy because the dust shields haven't been removed from the camera lenses yet. With the fins folded out, InSight is about the size of a big 1960s convertible, NASA said.

"Although we've done it before, landing on Mars is hard, and this mission is no different", Rob Manning, NASA's chief engineer at the jet propulsion laboratory, said in a statement.

Although NASA's Curiosity rover only had a two-year mission when it landed on Mars in 2012, the robot has since traveled about 12 miles around Gale Crater, and is still conducting science.

The solar arrays are key to helping InSight function. NASA's two cubesats were able to monitor InSight as it landed, these experimental satellites were useful because they sent live data back to Earth even while InSight was performing atmospheric entry. NASA's next mission, the Mars 2020 rover, will prowl for rocks that might contain evidence of ancient life.

In addition to his duties as co-investigator on the mission's science team, Banfield is serving as the lead on the atmospheric pressure sensor instrument group and co-chair of the atmospheric working group. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: "surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase".

The suite of geophysical instruments will take measurements of Mars' internal activity like seismology and the wobble as the sun and its moons tug on the planet. In the background are plains of the planet's surface.

By doing this the HFPPP will be able to give unique data about the planet's interior and how it evolved through time.

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

But as expected, the dust kicked up during the landing obscured the first picture InSight sent back, which was heavily flecked.

It's possible that humans may make their way up to Mars at some point. However, this probe will focus on Mars' interior, trying to understand its core.

Landing a spacecraft on Mars is, of course, intricate. InSight's robotic camera arm will continue to transmit images back to NASA in a bid to help scientists configure where it's best to place its scientific instruments.

The lander is powered by two solar panels which unfold on landing.

"It's taken more than a decade to bring InSight from a concept to a spacecraft approaching Mars - and even longer since I was first inspired to try to undertake this kind of mission. Ultimately, this will contribute to the knowledge of how all rocky planets formed".

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