NASA's InSight probe landed safely on Mars on Monday, after a tense descent of seven minutes. The robot now cleared the dust and sent back the first images of his vision on the surface of the Red planet.
The first image that came back was a vision of Mars. Fortunately, a later photo captured the Martian surface in better resolution without being obscured by the translucent lens cap and the dust that had caused such a first-to-grainy impression.
The probe is currently on the Elysium Planitia, a vast flat plain that NASA dubbed "Largest parking on Mars." The device's thermal shield, parachutes and rocket propellers helped bring the aircraft to a soft landing, having entered the atmosphere of the Red Planet traveling faster than a high-speed bullet here on Earth, the first attempt since 2012.
The robot will not spend the duration of its mission taking pictures and selfies from the landscape, but instead will conduct an investigation into the deep interior of the Red Planet – the only planet apart from Earth that mankind will have studied on this planet. way.
The notification confirming that the device deployed its solar panels, crucial for the longevity of the mission, occurred seven hours after landing, thanks to the MarCO A and B satellites, which transmitted the mission data during the descent operation.
"Having successfully brought all of InSight's data during its exciting sequence of entry, descent and landing (EDL) – what you see before is an image taken at 4,700 miles from Mars about 10-15 minutes after the EDL" explained MarCO chief engineer Andy Klesh.
The mission of InSight has three main objectives: to implant Franco-British seismometers to measure any potential Marsquakes; activate a German "mole" that will dig 16.4 feet (five meters) down to take temperature readings of the planet: and a third experiment will use radio waves to determine how Mars is oscillating on its axis.
"If you take a raw egg and a boiled egg and rotate them, they oscillate differently because of the distribution of liquid inside. And today we really do not know if the core of Mars is liquid or solid, and how big that nucleus is. InSight will give us this information " Deputy project scientist Suzanne Smrekar said.
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The inspirational moment when the touchdown was reached and the Mission Control team finally breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated was also shared by NASA:
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