NASA's InSight Probe Has Sent Back Its First Photos From Mars

People at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California celebrate as the In Sight lander touches down on Mars

People at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California celebrate as the In Sight lander touches down on Mars

Engineer Kris Bruvold celebrates as the InSight lander touch downs on Mars.

InSight should land on a sandy area of Mars, where it will take readings on the heat of the core, up to five metres below the surface.

Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles said the successful landing was confirmed by signals relayed to Earth from one of two miniature satellites that were launched along with InSight, and flew past Mars when it arrived shortly before 3 p.m. EST.

The InSight mission team waited and "watched" for the probe's landing by monitoring InSight's radio signals with radio telescopes on Earth and a variety of spacecraft, according to a NASA press release.

The twin "Cubesats" tagging along for the flight to Mars represented the first deep-space use of a miniature satellite technology that space engineers see as a promising low-priced alternative to some larger, more complex vehicles.

REUTERS/Mike BlakeHow did NASA's InSight spacecraft land on Mars?

NASA's InSight spacecraft opens a window into the "inner space" of Mars.

Vid NASA's InSight lander today successfully fell through the atmosphere of Mars to touchdown in seemingly one piece on the planet's surface. NASA received confirmation that the solar arrays were deployed at 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 November 27 GMT), about five-and-a-half hours after InSight landed on Mars. Now that the dust has settled, NASA can focus on the lander's future as a scientific gold mine that will give Mars an unprecedented internal examination to better understand heretofore hidden details of the world's origins and history.

By examining the deepest, darkest interior of Mars scientists hope to create 3D images that could reveal how our solar system's rocky planets formed 4.5 billion years ago and why they turned out so differently.

Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO)

To reach Mars, InSight cruised 301,223,981 miles at a top speed of 6,200 mph, while being followed by two cube satellites.

An artist's concept shows the InSight lander, its sensors, cameras and instruments.

Vice-President Mike Pence called to congratulate the United States space agency for its hard work.

"The UK scientists and engineers involved in this mission have committed several years of their lives to building the seismometer on board, and the descent is always a worrying time". By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will address fundamental questions about the formation of Earth-like planets by detecting the fingerprints of those processes buried deep within the interior of Mars, the space agency says.

InSight landed at Elysium Planitia, called "the biggest parking lot on Mars" by astronomers. A third experiment, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment or RISE, sits on the lander itself and will monitor the position of Mars' North Pole to determine how much the planet is wobbling.

An unexpected bonus arrived a few minutes later: The MarCOs transmitted a photo snapped by InSight of its new surroundings. With this safe landing, I'm here.

Key to InSight's continued survival on the harsh surface of Mars is the deployment of its solar panels, which were stowed for the descent. "When the first images come down, our engineering and science teams will hit the ground running, beginning to plan where to deploy our science instruments".

"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands", said Glaze.

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