NASA unveiled new amazing images of Mars after its InSight spacecraft finally removed the lens cap from its cameras and began to take clearer pictures of the surface of the Red Planet.
The space agency shared a series of high-resolution photos of the rocky terrain of Mars.
Also visible in the snapshots were the two tiny chips that took the names of more than 2 million people to the planet.
The probe will soon begin to photograph the surface directly in front of it to give scientists an idea of where to begin drilling.
"We're at MARS, guys," InSight's Twitter account posted today. "You are all honorary Martians."
The breathtaking quality of InSider's newest images is a major improvement over the first images, which have been obscured by dust and protective covers.
Bruce Benerdy, principal investigator for the mission at NATA's Jet Propulsion Lab, said, "Today we can see the first glimpse of our workspace.
"Early next week, let's imagine it in more detail and create a complete mosaic."
The spacecraft's robotic arm extends for nearly two meters in length and will be used to move scientific instruments.
The first images emerged after scientists waited in suspense during the spacecraft's "seven minutes of terror" landing on the Red Planet.
By examining and mapping the interior of Mars, scientists hope to find out why the rocky planets in our solar system have become so different and why Earth has become a refuge for life.
Traveling 301 million miles (548 million km) from Earth, the robot's nearly seven-month journey ended in a dramatic crash by reaching the Red Planet at 9:50 pm on Monday.
Control of NASA's California mission exploded with joy after InSight arrived safely.
The final seven minutes were particularly tense as the spacecraft navigated the fine Martian atmosphere that provided little friction to slow down.
Project manager Tom Hoffman said the spacecraft landed close to the target, but Nasa still had no final calculations.
He said it was difficult to tell in the first photo if there was any incline nearby, but it looked like he had the flat and smooth "parking" he was expecting.
Because of the distance between Earth and Mars, it took eight minutes for confirmation to arrive, relayed by a pair of tiny satellites that came behind InSight.
The two satellites not only broadcast the good news almost in real time, but also sent the first InSight Mars snapshot just four minutes after landing.
The image was speckled with dirt because the dust cover was still on the rig's camera, but the terrain around the spacecraft seemed soft and sandy with only visible rock visible – which was exactly what the scientists expected.
Better photos are expected in the next few days, after the dust covers come out.
Rob Manning, chief engineer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, praised the landing's success as "flawless." This is what we really expected and imagined in our minds. Sometimes things work in your favor. "
It was NASA's eighth successful landing – indeed, of humanity – on Mars since the 1976 Viking spacecraft, and the first in six years.
NASA's Curiosity rover, which arrived in 2012, is still on the move on Mars.
Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who presided over his first landing of the Red Planet as head of the space agency, said: "What a wonderful day for our country."
Seven hours after the landing, the agency reported that InSight's vital solar panels were open and recharging its batteries.
During the upcoming 24-hour and 39-minute "suns" or Martian days, flight controllers will also assess the integrity of InSight's extremely important robotic arm and its scientific instruments.
Three UK seismograph instruments are aboard the spacecraft, part of a £ 4 million British Space Agency effort to measure marsquakes on the planet.
Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: "It is wonderful news that the InSight spacecraft has landed safely on Mars.
"The UK scientists and engineers involved in this mission have committed themselves to building the seismograph on board for several years and the descent is always a worrying time.
"We can now await the implementation of the instrument and the data that will begin to arrive in the new year to improve our understanding of how the planet formed."
The robot will be the first probe that will focus only on understanding the interior of Mars, from its core to its crust.
A second instrument will excavate five meters into the soil of Mars, measuring the temperature of the planet, while a third experiment will determine how Mars rocks on its axis.
The InSight's 77-mile descent to the surface was slowed by atmospheric friction, a giant parachute, and retro rockets. When it finally landed 6-1 / 2 minutes later, it was traveling at a mere 5 mph (8 km / h).
The stationary probe, launched from California in May, then stopped for 16 minutes for the dust to settle around the landing site before its disk-shaped solar arrays rolled to provide power.
The location in the Elysium Planitia area north of its equator has been described as an ideal location for its flat, rockless surface.
It is 600 miles from the 2012 landing site of the curiosity of Mars the size of a car, the last spacecraft sent to the Red Planet by NASA.
The smaller InSight, of 880 pounds (360 kg) – its name short for Inner Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport – marks the 21st US Martian exploration, including the Mariner fly-by missions of the 1960s. Nearly two dozens of other missions to Mars were sent from other nations.
This two-year, 633-million-pound mission aims to shed new light on how the Red Planet was formed and its deep structure, mapping its core, crust and mantle.
To achieve this, the probe is equipped with powerful sensors and equipment to help collect data.
There are solar panels the size of ping pong tables and a six-foot tall robotic arm.
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InSight also has a thermometer nicknamed "Mole," which will dig 16 feet below the Martian surface to do underground temperature readings.
The probe is also equipped with wind and heat sensors, which help to operate thermal and wind shields – to protect against damage.
Only 40% of the missions to the planet were successful and all were led by the United States.
Do you think you will get a chance to visit Mars someday? Let us know in the comments!
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