Insight spacecraft sends selfie back to Earth after landing on Mars

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Insight spacecraft sends selfie back to Earth after landing on Mars

NASA has successfully landed its InSight lander on Mars. The self-hammering mole will burrow 16 feet down to measure the planet's internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes. "The details like thickness and composition give clues to how they form and the different paths they took to form the planets we see today".

Because of the delay between Mars-Earth communications, it will take seven minutes for NASA to know whether the $425 million-dollar lander has successfully touched down...or crashed into the Martian surface.

Insight has twin solar arrays, each capable of extending to a width of 2.2 meters. And besides, InSight cares little for the superficialities on the surface; its interest lies far deeper.

InSight's landing and all that follows from here on is the kind of knowledge base that can change the world's science textbooks forever.

Confirmation of a successful touchdown is not the end of the challenges of landing on the Red Planet. For this, InSight had to autonomously deploy a supersonic parachute, gather its radar measurements, and ignite its thrusters - all within seven minutes of reaching the Martian atmosphere.

"Mars is on the cusp between being an active planet and a dead planet, in terms of its capacity to evolve", Bibring says.

The plain is near the equator in the northern hemisphere of the Red Planet.

Museums, planetariums and libraries across the US held viewing parties to watch the events unfold at JPL.

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

InSight launched from California on May 5 and enjoyed a pleasantly uneventful flight to Mars, just how engineers like it.

Mars' well-preserved interior provides a snapshot of what Earth may have looked like following its formation 4.5 billion years ago, according to Banerdt. This will allow researchers to obtain more information about how was formed the rocky celestial body in the Solar system. Unlike earthquakes, marsquakes are a effect of a cooling and shrinking world, says Hoffman, and hopes are high that there will be many marsquakes for InSight to detect. That will be left to future rovers, such as Nasa's Mars 2020 mission, which will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analysed for evidence of ancient life. These charge the probe's batteries each day to help it carry out its missions that include listening for seismic vibrations in Mars, shedding light on the planet's interior structure, and estimating how many meteorites might batter/are on a collision course with the planet.

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