NASA’s InSight craft successfully landed on Mars yesterday and sent back a selfie.
InSight – which stands for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport – successfully completed its epic 300 million mile journey and gently landed at walking pace on the Red Planet at 19:53 GMT yesterday.
The spacecraft was able to send back a snap of itself on the Red planet using a camera fixed on its robotic arm.
Now InSight needs to wait for the dust from its own landing to settle before it can get down to business.
The next step will be for InSights solar array motors to warm up so it can unfurl its solar panels. The craft is completely solar-powered.
— Trace Dominguez (@tracedominguez) November 26, 2018
The craft can then its onboard instruments to start unpacking the mysteries of Mars. Key to the mission is an ultra-senstive seismometer (created by engineers at Imperial College London) which will listen for tremors in the planet to better understand the make up of Mars.
The mission could settle if Mars once had a liquid core. If it did the planet might once have had a magnetic field like Earths which could have protected early life. How and why it disappeared is one of the planets biggest mysteries.
Mars InSight: Key Facts
Studying Mars’ interior structure answers key questions about the early formation of rocky planets in our inner solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – more than 4 billion years ago, as well as rocky exoplanets.