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Touchdown! The ‘goosebumps’ moment when NASA’s InSight landed on Mars

A security officer records the events at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) after the spaceship Insight landed on the surface of Mars at JPL in Pasadena, California. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Touchdown! The ‘goosebumps’ moment when NASA’s InSight landed on Mars

Touchdown! The ‘goosebumps’ moment when NASA’s InSight landed on Mars

Mars has just received its newest robotic resident. NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully touched down on the Red Planet after an almost seven-month, 458-million-kilometer journey from Earth.

After seven months of traveling through space, the NASA InSight mission has landed on Mars. A few minutes after landing, InSight sent the official “beep” to NASA to signal that it was alive and well, including a photo of the Martian surface where it landed.

NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image of the area in front of the lander using its lander-mounted, Instrument Context Camera (ICC) with the ICC image field of view of 124 x 124 degrees, on Mars, November 26, 2018. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via REUTERS

InSight launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California May 5. The lander touched down near Mars’ equator on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava called Elysium Planitia.

“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “InSight will study the interior of Mars and will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars. 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.”

NASA engineers in the space flight operation facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) react as the first picture arrives from the spaceship InSight after it landed on Mars from JPL in Pasadena, California. Al Seib/Pool via REUTERS 

During a post-landing NASA press conference, the astronauts on the International Space Station called down to congratulate the mission team and said they “got some goosebumps” watching the coverage.

“Every Mars landing is daunting, but now with InSight safely on the surface we get to do a unique kind of science on Mars,” says JPL director Michael Watkins.

 It will take two to three months for the robotic arm to place the mission’s instruments on the surface. Meanwhile, mission scientists will photograph what can be seen from the lander’s perspective and monitor the environment. Science data isn’t expected until March.

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