InSight Has Landed! Inside the Dramatic Touchdown

Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO)

NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Lands Successfully On Mars After 300-Million-Mile Journey

It is also NASA's first attempt to land on Mars in six years, with only four out of 10 previous attempts being successful.

After months in space, the NASA InSight probe has successfully touched down on Mars.

The InSight team has chosen a "boring" spot for the landing because they want the probe's two primary instruments, a sensitive seismometer and an underground temperature probe to be undisturbed - to measure the tiniest fluctuations in the planet's interior.

"It's taken more than a decade to bring InSight from a concept to a spacecraft approaching Mars - and even longer since I was first inspired to try to undertake this kind of mission", said Bruce Banerdt of JPL and InSight's principal investigator.

Carrying instruments that detect planetary heat and seismic rumblings never measured anywhere else but Earth, the stationary lander streaked into the thin Martian atmosphere at 12,300 miles (19,795 km) per hour. "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".

NASA shows places where people have gathered to watch the landing of spacecraft in Mars.

Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the U.S., Russian Federation and other spacefaring countries, have been lost or destroyed over the years, with a success rate of just 40 percent, not counting InSight.

The Mars InSight lander has just touched down on the surface of the Red Planet at 11:54 a.m. PST (2:54 p.m. EST).

"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands", said Glaze. Once deployed on the surface, the HP3 self-penetrating heat flow probe-aptly nicknamed "the mole" -will pound the ground tens of thousands of times to eventually burrow as much as 5 meters below the surface. The seismic waves marsquakes produce will be used by InSight to create a 3-D picture of Mars's interior-but they can also be used to study meteorites thudding into the surface. No other country has managed to set and operate even a single spacecraft on the dusty surface. Up to now, the success rate at the red planet was only 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russian Federation and other countries since 1960. "We just love that shaking, and so the more shaking it does, the better we can see the inside".

Still, there are no life detectors aboard InSight.

American space agency Nasa's 814 million dollar (£633 million) two-year mission aims to shine new light on how the Red Planet was formed and its deep structure, by mapping its core, crust and mantle.

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