InSight spacecraft sends selfie back to Earth after landing on Mars

NASA           First Image From InSight

NASA First Image From InSight

Minutes after landing, InSight transmitted its first color image from Mars, via the MarCO relay, showing a bleak landscape through a veneer of dust that had accumulated on its camera's protective cover. This tension quickly turned to excitement once InSight landed, however.

"We've studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry".

With InSight on Mars, what comes next?

InSight has already made the first photo and "selfie". 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.

InSight landed at Elysium Planitia, the "biggest parking lot on Mars", and its mission for the next two years will be to explore the inside of Mars and "deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system". It survived a fiery "6 minutes of terror", during which Earthbound NASA engineers waited in blindness as their craft pierced the Martian atmosphere and hurtled toward the surface.

If all of that isn't enough to whet your pre-landing appetite, NASA has also included in the InSight launch in its "Countdown to T-Zero" documentary series. It will take about three months for the team to perform all the necessary tests and begin to deploy the instruments that InSight carried to Mars.

France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) made the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, the key element for sensing quakes. To cap off the season, they will also be live from JPL as InSight enters the final stages of its journey.

The red planet is comparatively easy to land on and is less likely to melt NASA's equipment than Venus or Mercury, the space administration said. All the pieces have to be set up perfectly to work, so the NASA team will be moving slowly.

Like SEIS, though, this instrument is also now stowed on the lander deck.

The 880-pound (360 kg) InSight - its name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - marks the 21st US-launched Mars mission, dating back to the Mariner fly-bys of the 1960s. Its assignment is to offer awareness into how rocky planets like Mars originate and evolve over a period of time and it's furnished with tools involving a seismometer, a burrowing heat probe, and radio science gear. It's job, now that it has arrived at Mars, is to sit quietly on the surface and just listen to the planet.

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