NASA’s InSight lander touched down at 11:54 Pacific Time and followed a seven-month, 300 million-mile (485 million kilometer) journey from Southern California that.
InSight will spend the next few hours cleaning its camera lens and unfurling its solar arrays.
Once NASA confirms that the solar arrays have been properly deployed, engineers will spend the next three months preparing the lander’s science instruments to begin collecting data.
The touchdown continues NASA’s good fortunes with Mars landings, and is the fifth successful landing in a row.
Only 40% of missions by any agency sent to pass by, orbit or land on Mars have been successful, and NASA has certainly had some failures, too.
This is by way of saying that any successful mission to Mars is a great accomplishment.
The European Space Agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation and the team of ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos currently have satellites orbiting the planet, and Japan, China. Russia and the United Arab Emirates have Mars missions planned for the next decade. The next NASA mission to the planet is the Mars 2020 rover, a follow-up to the still exploring Curiosity rover which landed in 2012.
For those who might have missed it, here is our recent Many Worlds column about the novel science planned for InSight:
In the known history of our 4.5-billion-year-old solar system, the insides of but one planet have been explored and studied. While there’s a lot left to know about the crust, the mantle and the core of the Earth, there is a large and vibrant field dedicated to that learning.
Sometime next month, an extensive survey of the insides of a second solar system planet will begin. That planet is Mars and, assuming safe arrival, the work will start after the InSight lander touches down on November 26.… Read more