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27 ноября 2018, 20:43

NASA Successfully Lands InSight on Mars

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NASA’s InSight Mars lander successfully touched down on the Red Planet, after an almost seven-month, 300-million-mile journey from Earth.

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft is on a two-year mission to study Mars’ deep interior.

Its findings, NASA hopes, will help scientists better understand the formation of rocky celestial bodies—Earth and the Moon included.

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, InSight touched down Monday, Nov. 26, near Mars’ equator on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava called Elysium Planitia.

NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image of the area in front of the lander using its Instrument Context Camera (ICC) on Nov. 26, 2018 (via NASA/JPL-CalTech)

The event—which marks the first Mars landing since 2012’s Curiosity rover—was broadcast live on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and social media platforms.

“We successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a 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.”

The completed landing sequence was confirmed at approximately 3 p.m. EST., relayed to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) via one of two experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats.

MarCO-B, one of the experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, took this image of Mars from about 4,700 miles away during its flyby of the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018 (via NASA/JPL-Caltech)

“The whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only six and a half minutes,” according to project manager Tom Hoffman. “During that short span of time, InSight had to autonomously perform dozens of operations and do them flawlessly—and by all indications that is exactly what our spacecraft did.”

The good news continues to roll in as NASA confirmed on Tuesday that InSight’s solar panels are open and collecting sunlight, allowing the capsule to recharge its batteries each day.

“The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight,” Hoffman said. “It’s been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase.”

Over the next few days, engineers will unstow a 5.9-foot robotic arm and use the attached camera to snap photos of the landscape, allowing NASA to start planning where to deploy the mission’s scientific instruments.

“Landing was thrilling, but I’m looking forward to the drilling,” principal investigator Bruce Banerdt said.

InSight is expected to operate for one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days—until Nov. 24, 2020; the MarCOs’ objectives were completed after their Mars flyby.

“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,” Bridenstine said. “The best of NASA is yet to come, and it is coming soon.”

More coverage on Geek.com:

Source: https://www.geek.com/news/nasa-successfully-lands-insight-on-mars-1762925/?source=science