After traveling seven months, the Nasa InSight mission has successfully landed on Mars, sending a signal to earth confirming its completed landing.
Rabat – The InSight lander touched down on Mars on Monday, November 26, 8:52 p.m. Moroccan time.
“The whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only six-and-a-half minutes,” said InSight project manager Tom Hoffman at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
A few minutes after touchdown, the InSight lander deployed its two 2.13-meter-long solar arrays which recharge the spacecraft batteries. The whole process took about 32 minutes.
To reach the red planet, InSight travelled 458 million kilometers at a speed of 19,800 kilometers per hour in space.
“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) 26 novembre 2018
InSight’s mission “will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed,” NASA said in a statement on Monday.
InSight, according to Bridenstine, “will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars.”
The Moroccan head of NASA’s Planetary Studies Department, Kamal Oudrhiri, told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) that “landing on Mars is one of the most improbable scientific achievements in terms of global exploration, as the success rate is only 40 percent.”
A failure rate of 60 percent “obviously makes things complicated but also exciting if they succeed,” he added.
Oudrhiri, who worked on the Mars InSight project, said Sunday that the new scientific mission will study the internal composition of the red planet and that InSight has been equipped with seismometers and a heat flow sensor.
Having worked for NASA for more than 20 years, Oudrhiri contributed to several key missions, including missions related to Mars exploration craft: Curiosity, Rovers, Spirit, and Opportunity.
Two days after touchdown, the InSight spacecraft will start deploying its 1.8-meter long robotic arm to photograph the landscape.
Aaah…soaking up the Sun with my solar panels. 🌞 After a long flight, and thrilling #MarsLanding, it feels great to get a good stretch and recharge my batteries. (Like, literally.) It’s just what I’ll need to really start getting in tune with #Mars. https://t.co/yse3VEst3G pic.twitter.com/LpsiI0KNNz
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) 27 novembre 2018
Starting this week, the two-year mission will begin collecting data. However, the engineering team will have two to three months to place the lander’s instruments into Mars ground.
“Landing was thrilling, but I’m looking forward to the drilling,” said InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt of JPL. “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.”
Many European partners, including France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) supported the InSight mission.