After 7 minutes of terror, NASAs InSight lander has touched down on Mars

After \7 minutes of terror,\ NASA\s InSight lander has touched down on Mars
Flawless: NASA craft lands on Mars after perilous journey
A NASA spacecraft designed to burrow beneath the surface of Mars landed on the red planet Monday after a six-month, 482 million-kilometre journey and a perilous, six-minute descent through the rose-hued atmosphere.

Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leaped out of their seats and erupted in screams, applause and laughter as news came in that the three-legged InSight lander had touched down on the red planet.

NASA says it has landed InSight spacecraft on Mars

"This is what we really hoped and imagined in our mind's eye," he said. "Sometimes things work out in your favour."

Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration, InSights lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt, said before Mondays success. Its such a difficult thing, its such a dangerous thing that theres always a fairly uncomfortably large chance that something could go wrong.

InSight Mission Lands On Mars, Beams Back First Photo From Its New Home

A pair of mini satellites trailing InSight since their May liftoff provided practically real-time updates of the spacecraft's supersonic descent through the reddish skies. The satellite also shot back a quick photo from Mars's surface.

InSight, a $1 billion international venture, reached the surface after going from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat, using a parachute and braking engines. Radio signals confirming the landing took more than eight minutes to cross the nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) between Mars and Earth.

The image was marred by specks of debris on the camera cover. But that quick look at the vista showed a flat, sandy surface with few if any rocks — just what scientists were hoping for. Much better pictures will arrive in the hours and days ahead.

"What a relief," Manning said. "This is really fantastic." He added: "This never gets old."

The stationary 800-pound (360-kilogram) lander will use its 6-foot (1.8-meter) robotic arm to place a mechanical mole and seismometer on the ground. The self-hammering mole will burrow 16 feet (5 meters) down to measure the planets internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.

The InSight spacecraft reached the surface after going from 19,800 km/h to zero in six minutes flat, using a parachute and braking engines to slow down. Radio signals confirming the landing took more than eight minutes to cross the nearly 160 million kilometres between Mars and Earth.

Video: Fans Watch Colorado Spacecraft Land On Mars

It was NASA's ninth attempt to land at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes. All but one of the previous U.S. touchdowns were successful.

An engineer smiles next to an image of Mars sent from the InSight lander shortly after it landed on Mars in the mission support area of the space flight operation facility at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

Across North America, live viewings were held at museums, planetariums and libraries, as well as Times Square in New York.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft designed to burrow beneath the surface of Mars landed on the red planet Monday after a six-month, 300-million-mile (482-million-kilometer) journey and a perilous, six-minute descent through the rose-hued atmosphere.

"Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration," said InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt. "It's such a difficult thing, it's such a dangerous thing that there's always a fairly uncomfortably large chance that something could go wrong."

Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions. Up to now, the success rate at the red planet has been only 40 per cent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russia and other countries since 1960.

Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions. Up to now, the success rate at the red planet was only 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russia and other spacefaring countries since 1960.

The U.S., however, has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past four decades, not counting InSight, with only one failed touchdown.

A quick photo sent from Mars surface was marred by specks of debris on the camera cover but showed a flat surface with few if any rocks — just what scientists were hoping for. Much better pictures will arrive in the hours and days ahead.

InSight was shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas with few, if any, rocks.

The U.S., however, has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past four decades, not counting InSight, with only one failed touchdown. No other country has managed to set and operate even a single spacecraft on the dusty surface.

This is no rock-collecting expedition. Instead, the stationary 360-kilogram lander will use its 1.8-metre robotic arm to place a mechanical mole and seismometer on the ground. 

InSight has no life-detecting capability, however. That will be left to future rovers, such as NASAs Mars 2020 mission, which will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analyzed for evidence of ancient life.

The self-hammering mole will burrow five metres down to measure the planet's internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.

A NASA spacecraft designed to burrow beneath the surface of Mars landed on the red planet Monday after a six-month, 300 million-mile journey and a perilous, six-minute descent through the rose-hued atmosphere. (Nov. 26)

But just getting those instruments in place will take several months, as NASA scientists will first need to assess the health of the spacecraft and the area where it landed. 

A pair of mini satellites trailing InSight since their May liftoff provided practically real-time updates of the spacecrafts supersonic descent through the reddish skies.

Nothing like this has been attempted before on Mars, a planet nearly 160 million kilometres from Earth.

According to NASA, mission engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, have picked up a radio signal — either coming from the InSight lander or from one of the two MarCO mini-satellites accompanying the mission — which let them know that the spacecraft has made contact with the Martian soil.

By examining the interior of Mars, scientists hope to understand how our solar system's rocky planets formed 4.5 billion years ago and why they turned out so different — Mars cold and dry, Venus and Mercury burning hot, and Earth hospitable to life.

Over the next few hours, the missions team will be monitoring all radio communications coming from the InSight landing site to make sure that the spacecraft is in good health and ready to start its pioneering mission.

"We're trying to go back in time to the earliest stages of out planet," Banerdt said. "The fingerprints of those early processes just aren't here on the Earth."

InSight has no life-detecting capability, however. That will be left to future rovers. NASA's Mars 2020 mission, for instance, will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analyzed for evidence of ancient life.

After an epic journey that lasted seven months and carried it more than 300 million miles through space, NASAs historic InSight mission has finally landed on Mars.

After waiting in white-knuckle suspense for confirmation to arrive from space, flight controllers at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leaped out of their seats and erupted in screams, applause and laughter as the news came in that the three-legged InSight spacecraft had successfully touched down.

People hugged, shook hands, exchanged high-fives, pumped their fists, wiped away tears and danced in the aisles.

“This is what we really hoped and imagined in our minds eye,” he said. “Sometimes things work out in your favor.”

A pair of mini satellites trailing InSight since their May liftoff provided practically real-time updates of the spacecrafts supersonic descent through the reddish skies.

A quick photo sent from Mars surface was marred by specks of debris on the camera cover but showed a flat surface with few if any rocks — just what scientists were hoping for. Much better pictures will arrive in the hours and days ahead.

InSight, a $1 billion international venture, reached the surface after going from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat, using a parachute and braking engines. Radio signals confirming the landing took more than eight minutes to cross the nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) between Mars and Earth.

Viewings of the televised activity inside the JPL control room were held coast to coast at museums, planetariums and libraries, as well as New Yorks Times Square.

“Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration,” InSights lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt, said before Mondays success. “Its such a difficult thing, its such a dangerous thing that theres always a fairly uncomfortably large chance that something could go wrong.”

Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions. Up to now, the success rate at the red planet was only 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russia and other spacefaring countries since 1960.

The U.S., however, has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past four decades, not counting InSight, with only one failed touchdown. No other country has managed to set and operate even a single spacecraft on the dusty surface.

InSight was shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas.

The stationary 800-pound (360-kilogram) lander will use its 6-foot (1.8-meter) robotic arm to place a mechanical mole and seismometer on the ground. The self-hammering mole will burrow 16 feet (5 meters) down to measure the planets internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.

No lander has dug deeper on Mars than several inches, and no seismometer has ever worked on the planet.

An ecstatic Philippe Laudet, the French Space Agencys project manager, said at JPL that now that the seismometer is on Mars, a “new adventure” is beginning.

By examining the interior of Mars, scientists hope to understand how our solar systems rocky planets formed 4.5 billion years ago and why they turned out so different — Mars cold and dry, Venus and Mercury burning hot, and Earth hospitable to life.

InSight has no life-detecting capability, however. That will be left to future rovers, such as NASAs Mars 2020 mission, which will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analyzed for evidence of ancient life.

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