Nasa’s InSight takes selfie on Mars after dramatic 7 minute plunge

Nasa’s InSight takes selfie on Mars after dramatic 7 minute plunge

More than half of previous missions to Mars had failed.

As for next steps, prep for the lander's upcoming two-year mission will begin.

"Based on this data we will be able to research the properties of the crust, mantle and core of Mars", Grygorczuk added.

There is also the rotation and interior structure experiment (RISE). EDL engineers are responsible for getting spacecraft from the top of the atmosphere of a planet to the surface safely.

Banerdt called InSight's first snapshot of the surface the first bit of science, albeit "nice and dirty".

InSight's Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) captured the photo-this camera is found on the lander's robotic arm.

Once InSight successfully landed, NASA's focus shifted to the probe's solar panels.

"The reason why we're digging into Mars is to better understand not just Mars, but the Earth itself", said JPL's Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator.

The company, which was started over 50 years ago by engineers from Boeing and the Jet Propulsion Lab, built the engines and thrusters that sent InSight to Mars.

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France's CNES made the SEIS instrument, while the German Aerospace Center (DLR) provided a self-hammering mole that can burrow five metres into the surface - farther than any instrument before - to measure heat flow.

The MarCOs have also supported scientific exploration at Mars, even though they do not carry any scientific equipment.

The three-legged InSight settled on the western side of Elysium Planitia, the plain that NASA was aiming for. While the geology and chemistry of the region are interesting, the site was chosen more for the ease of landing and large amounts of sunlight than its surface features. On a clear day, the probe gets about 600 to 700 watts from the panels, and even when dust settles on the panels - which could be a common occurrence on Mars - they can provide up to 200 to 300 watts of power for the probe. Mercury, closest to the sun, has a surface that's positively baked.

Nearly half of the attempts to land on Mars fail. It takes less than seven minutes for the craft to touch down on the surface, but fourteen minutes for signals to be relayed from Mars to Earth and back. Unlike NASA's famous rovers Curiosity and Opportunity, InSight will remain in the exact place it lands. Dozens of operations and thousands of lines of code were pre-programmed into the machinery and memory of the spacecraft and by all accounts they executed perfectly.

Shortly after its landing, the InSight Lander sent a picture back to NASA.

InSight contains key instruments that were contributed by several European space agencies.

" ... about two or three-hundred miles away".

Future deep space missions are now expected to increasingly adopt this technology. They are created to cut out the instant the probe lands because if they don't it will tip over.

"Ultimately, the day is coming when we land humans on Mars", Bridenstine said, adding that the goal is to do so by the mid 2030s.



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