It only took nearly seven months for NASA’s Insight lander probe to jet 140 million miles from Earth to Mars, Elon Musk’s favorite planet. Once it landed, it took mere moments for it to send its first image across the cosmos. And there was much rejoicing, at mission control as well as in Times Square, where the landing was broadcast, and over the information superhighway.
The image itself wasn’t much, as was expected: A dim, borderline inscrutable image of the surface, peppered with black spots. There was dust on the lens, but the probe’s two cameras will reportedly be wiped clean as the structure, which weighs 794 pounds, settles in. The image was quickly sent over NASA’s Twitter account.
The $28 million mission to Mars, which was launched on May 5 of this year, will have the probe spending two years — that’s two Earth years — attempting to hammer a heat probe some 16 feet deep into the planet’s ground. That’s deeper than has ever been probed before, and it will not only help us take the planet’s temperature but also track quakes as well as shakes as it sails along its orbit. The goal is to understand how rocky planets — not only Mars, but also Venus, Mercury, and our own third stone from the sun – are formed.
This is only NASA’s eighth successful landing on Mars. The first attempt, which proved unsuccessful, was in 1960, courtesy of the Soviet Union. The first successful landing, by the United States, was in 1964.
You can follow InSight’s Martian adventures over Twitter, with an account “written” in the first person.
(Via Business Insider)