Washington [USA]: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) InSight mission has finally touched down on the red planet on Monday (local time; around 1 p.m. of November 27 IST) after seven months of traveling through space.
CNN reported that a few minutes after landing, the InSight lander sent an official “beep” to NASA signaling its clear landing, including a photo of the Martian surface where it landed. The Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory celebrated the touchdown of the lander through a great applause after the landing was confirmed.
“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in his statement.
“InSight will study the interior of Mars and will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars. This accomplishment represents the ingenuity of America and our international partners, and it serves as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of our team. The best of NASA is yet to come, and it is coming soon,” CNN quoted Bridenstine as saying.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is the first outer space robotic explorer and will study the crust, mantle, and core of the fourth planet in our solar system.
The lander, launched on May 5, 2018, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and took a six-month cruise from Earth to Mars ever since, is NASA’s first spacecraft to land on Mars since Curiosity.
“We’ve studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry,” said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
“Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system,” Glaze further added.
CNN quoted NASA saying that InSight slowed from 12,300 mph to 5 mph before it gently landed on the surface of Mars.
It has a parachute and retro rockets to slow its descent through the atmosphere, and three legs suspended from the lander absorbed the shock of touching down on the surface. But the scientists at the same time also prepared the spacecraft to land during a dust storm if need be.
About 20 minutes before landing, InSight separated from the cruise stage that helped bring it all the way to Mars and turned to position itself for entering the atmosphere.
The landing was watched around the world and even broadcast live on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City’s Times Square.
Congratulating NASA on this occasion, US Vice President Mike Pence took to Twitter saying, “Congratulations to @NASA, @LockheedMartin, @ulalaunch, & all who made today’s @NASAInSight #MarsLanding possible! This marks the 8th time the US has landed on Mars & the 1st mission to study its deep interior. Incredible milestone!”