NASA Successfully Lands InSight Rover on Surface of Mars
After a nearly seven-month-long journey through space, the NASA InSight mission rover has successfully landed on Mars. This marks the first time NASA has landed on the surface of Mars in six years, making it an important asset for research on the red planet since the agency lost contact with the Opportunity rover due to a dust storm.
Upon landing on the surface, minutes later, InSight sent the official “beep” to NASA’s control center, signifying a successful landing. The rover also snapped a stunning photo of the horizon of Mars where it had landed, which the NASA InSight account tweeted, stating “There’s a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home.” The landing was watched all around the world, including a live broadcast displayed on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City’s Time Square.
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 27, 2018
At a post-landing NASA press conference, astronauts aboard the International Space Station called NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, congratulating the mission team on the successful launch, adding they “got some goosebumps” watching it happen. The JPL team exploded into excitement upon seeing their hard work finally pay off, with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine saying “It was intense, and you could feel the emotion.” He added, “It was very, very quiet when it was time to be quiet and of course very celebratory with every little new piece of information that was received. It’s very different being here than watching it on TV, by far, I can tell you that for sure now that I’ve experienced both.”
— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) November 26, 2018
The landing consisted of the InSight rover robotically guiding itself towards the surface. In the span of seven minutes, the rover slowed itself from 12,300 mph to 5 mph, before gently touching down on the planet’s surface. InSight utilized a parachute and retro rockets to slow its descent, while three legs suspended from the lander helps absorb the shock of its landing.
Bruce Banerdt of JPL, InSight’s principal investigator, said, “It’s taken more than a decade to bring InSight from a concept to a spacecraft approaching Mars — and even longer since I was first inspired to try to undertake this kind of mission. But even after landing, we’ll need to be patient for the science to begin.”
Now that InSight is on Mars, its mission will be to study the interior of the planet in preparation for eventually a manned mission sometime in 2030. The deep interior of Mars is something we know little about, and its two years studying it will bring forth valuable insight into its history. Bridenstine capped off the achievement best, declaring “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. The best of NASA is yet to come, and it is coming soon.”