Landing on Mars camera InSight gave the first the

Landing on Mars camera InSight gave the first the

Landing on Mars camera InSight gave the first the

The dramatic arrival of the $993m (R13.75bn) spacecraft - created to listen for quakes and tremors as a way to unveil the Red Planet's inner mysteries, how it formed billions of years ago and, by extension, how other rocky planets like Earth took shape - marked the eighth successful landing on Mars in Nasa's history. The solar panels that provide the lander energy for all of its communications equipment and scientific instruments produce 600 to 700 watts on a clear day, less than what a microwave oven uses.

"Mars continues to excite space enthusiasts of all ages", said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight mission's principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "In addition, we want to find out how the interior of Mars developed, whether it still possesses a hot molten core and what makes Earth so special by comparison". Another experiment will calculate Mars' wobble to reveal the makeup of the planet's core.

NASA's next mission, the Mars 2020 rover, will prowl for rocks that might contain evidence of ancient life.

The landing of InSight was also a test for Mars Cube One (MarCO), a flyby of two miniaturized and affordable satellites called CubeSats that were used to relay InSight's telemetry to Earth during the spacecraft's entry, descent and landing, as radio signals directly from InSight to Earth were blocked by Mars itself. This image was taken at about 12:10 p.m. PST (3:10 p.m. EST) while MarCO-B was flying away from the planet after InSight landed.

When it did, the NASA engineers responsible for getting the lander there erupted into celebration.

Minutes later, JPL controllers received a fuzzy "selfie" photograph of the probe's new surroundings on the Red Planet, showing the edge of one lander leg beside a rock.

Where will InSight land on Mars?

It will also slam a self-hammering heat flow probe about 16 feet into the Martian surface to take the planet's temperature. And InSight's magnetometer and weather sensors are taking readings of the landing site, Elysium Planitia - "the biggest parking lot on Mars". "They are a demonstration of potential future capability". The mission will last for one Martian year (the time it takes for Mars to complete one orbit of the sun), which equates to 26 Earth months.

Speeding faster than a bullet at 19,800km/h, the heat-shielded spacecraft encountered scorching friction as it entered the Mars atmosphere. "We have reawakened NASA, and that's a good thing".

The other camera is used to monitor the area the instruments are placed in. "It's given them valuable experience on every facet of building, testing and operating a spacecraft in deep space". They'll never replace the more capable spacecraft NASA is best known for developing.

And for the team that worked on MarCO, the success of the mission is just the beginning.

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