NASA’s Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander touched down on the Red Planet at approximately 3 pm EST November 26 (1.30am IST on November 27).
“Touchdown confirmed,” a mission control operator said as cheers erupted and scientists leapt from their seats to hug each other at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. InSight sent its first picture from Mars surface soon after.
Launched on May 5, InSight marks NASA’s first Mars landing since the Curiosity rover in 2012. The landing will kick off a two-year mission in which InSight will become the first spacecraft to study Mars’ deep interior. Its data also will help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own.
InSight, NASA’s $993 million lander, is being followed to Mars by two mini-spacecraft comprising NASA’s Mars Cube One (MarCO), the first deep-space mission for CubeSats. If MarCO makes its planned Mars flyby, it will attempt to relay data from InSight as it enters the planet’s atmosphere and lands.
InSight and MarCO flight controllers will monitor the spacecraft’s entry, descent and landing from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where all landing events will take place.