NASA's InSight spacecraft sends selfie back to Earth after landing on Mars


The spacecraft sent back a "selfie" after landing successfully on the surface of Mars.

The rover InSight captured an image of the dusty red planet on a camera that was fixed on its robotic arm.

The US space agency shared a photograph on social networks, showing the rocky surface of Mars and part of the Insight spacecraft.

The Mars Odyssey orbiter transmitted images of the spacecraft from its landing site, known as Elysium Planitia, at 1:30 am GMT, after nearly seven months traveling through space.

InSight had a seven-minute window to deceler from just under 13,000 mph to 5 mph – landing entirely based on stand-alone and pre-programmed systems.

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Receiving the images signals that InSight's solar panels, now known as solar panels, have now been successfully opened, which means it is able to collect sunlight and recharge its batteries every day.

Tom Hoffman, InSight's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: "The InSight team can rest a bit easier today, knowing that the spacecraft's solar arrays are installed and recharging the batteries.

"It was a long day for the team.

"But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the deployment phase of the instrument."

Using InSight's robotic arm, which has a camera attached, mission staff will be able to take more photos in the next few days, according to NASA.

This will help engineers assess where to install the spacecraft's scientific instruments, which could begin sending data back to Earth within two to three months.

The InSight lander landed on Mars shortly before 8 pm Monday, surviving the so-called "seven minutes of terror", a complicated landing phase for the robotic probe, traveling at 13.200mph through the rarefied atmosphere of the planet, which provides little friction to slow down.

The US $ 814 million (US $ 833 million) space mission of the NASA space agency aims to shed new light on how the Red Planet was formed and its deep structure, mapping its core, crust and mantle.

InSight arrived in the Elysium Planitia area on Mars, north of its equator, described as an ideal location for its flat, rockless surface.

It is the first attempt to reach Mars in six years.

Only 40% of the missions to the planet were successful and all were led by the United States.

Three seismic instruments from the UK are aboard InSight, part of an effort by the UK Space Agency of £ 4 million to measure seismic waves.

NASA InSight team members rejoice after obtaining confirmation of a successful landing on Mars.

Scientists at Imperial College London and Oxford University who created the instruments will be based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to aid in the study, including selecting the best location for the robot's arm to position the seismometer.

"It's wonderful news that the InSight spacecraft has landed safely on Mars," said Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency.

"The British scientists and engineers involved in this mission have committed themselves for several years to building the seismograph on board, and the descent is always a worrying time.

"Now we can expect 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."

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.


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