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 planet’s surface where it landed.
“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “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.”
To reach Mars, InSight cruised 301,223,981 miles at a top speed of 6,200 miles per hour in space, followed by two cube satellites. The suitcase-size spacecraft, called MarCO, are the first cube satellites to fly into deep space. MarCO shared data about InSight when it entered the Martian atmosphere for the landing.
“We’ve studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry,” said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system.”
In the months ahead, InSight will begin its study of the Martian underworld, listening for tremors — marsquakes — and collect data that will be pieced together in a map of the interior of the red planet and help would help scientists understand how Mars and other rocky planets formed.
Those lessons could also shed light on Earth’s origins.
“We can basically use Mars as a time machine to go back and look at what the Earth must have looked like a few tens of millions of years after it formed,” said Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator of the mission.