NASA InSight Mars probe successfully touches the surface of the red planet



November 27, 2018: 08:22:08

The Mars InSight landing module landed on the dusty Red Planet after traveling 548 million kilometers along a six-month journey through deep space.

Key points:

  • InSight will be the first to study the inner secrets of Mars
  • The spacecraft is equipped with instruments to detect planetary heat and seismic rumors
  • InSight marks the 21st Mars mission launched by the United States

The landing, which occurred shortly before 7 AM Brasília time, saw the Nasa spacecraft cross the top of the rarefied atmosphere of Mars at 19,795 kilometers per hour.

Reduced by friction, the launch of a supersonic parachute and the firing of retro rockets, InSight descended 123 km across the pink sky to the surface in 6.5 minutes.

He sent back a photo just after the landing, showing a successful touchdown on the surface, with the transparent lens cap of the camera still attached and covered in dust.

The view showed a flat surface with few or no rock – exactly what the scientists expected.

"I feel you, Mars," NASA's Twitter account for the research posted.

Much better images will arrive in the hours and days ahead.

In 2016, the European spacecraft Schiaparelli, the only spacecraft to attempt to land on the planet since the Rover Curiosity, crashed and burned.

The successful landing of InSight makes the first spacecraft to study the inner secrets of the Red Planet.

It is equipped with instruments to detect planetary heat and seismic rumors never measured anywhere beyond Earth.

After waiting in expectation of arriving from space, flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Jumped out of their seats and exploded in shouts, applause, and laughter as news came that the three spacecraft InSight, $ 1 billion, had landed successfully.

People hugged, shook hands, exchanged greetings, clenched their fists, wiped away their tears, and danced in the corridors.

"Impeccable," said JPL chief engineer Rob Manning.

"This is what we really expected and imagined in our minds. Sometimes things work out in your favor."

"Landing on Mars is one of the most difficult jobs people have to do on planetary exploration," said Bruce Banerdt, InSight's leading scientist, ahead of Monday's success.

"It's such a difficult thing, it's such a dangerous thing that there's always a very uncomfortable chance that something can go wrong."

Prior to landing, the JPL mission control team made a final adjustment to InSight's flight path Sunday to steer the spacecraft closer to its target of landing on Mars.

The stationary probe, launched in May in California, stopped for 16 minutes for the dust to settle, literally, around its landing site, before unfolding its disk-shaped solar panels as wings to power the spacecraft.

JPL engineers received real-time confirmation of the arrival of the vessel from data transmitted by a pair of miniature satellites that were launched together with InSight.

The landing site is about 600 km from the 2012 landing spot of the Mars Curve spacecraft, the last spacecraft to be sent to the Red Planet by NASA.

InSight less than 360 kg – its name is abbreviation of Exploration of Interiors Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Transport of Heat marks the 21st Mars mission launched by the US, dating back to the 1960s Mariner flights.

Nearly two dozen other missions to Mars were sent from other nations.

InSight is going to spend 24 months – about a Martian year – using seismic monitoring and ground temperature readings to unravel mysteries about how Mars formed and by extension the origins of Earth and other rocky planets in the inner solar system.

The spacecraft has no ability to detect life, however. This will be left to future robots, such as NASA's Mars 2020 mission, which will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analyzed for evidence of ancient life.

Reuters / AP


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First published

November 27, 2018: 07:01:57


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