NASA InSight Successfully Lands on Mars

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The lander - called InSight - touched down on Martian sole after a journey of over 300 million miles from Earth to Mars, the AP reported. The spacecraft was launched in May from Southern California, and travelled a total of 485 million kilometers through deep space. Over the two years of InSight's primary mission, the experiment will build a picture of how much Mars wobbles as it rotates, using the lander as a fixed point on the planet's surface. The NASA InSight lander arrived successfully on Mars' surface. One is mounted on the arm; the other on the front of the lander.

"[The mission] will tell us the difference between Mars and the Earth, and that's fundamental in terms of understanding what has made the Earth's evolution so specific that it harboured life".

Chief Nasa administrator James Bridenstine told reporters it was "an unbelievable day" and said that President Donald Trump has rung to offer his congratulations. The oldest geological history of Earth has been erased by later processes, such as plate tectonics and erosion, which are less active on Mars.

"We've studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry", Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, was quoted as saying. InSight is only the eighth spacecraft to land on Mars, and the first since 2012.

Its 77-mile descent was then slowed by atmospheric friction, a giant parachute and retro rockets, bringing the three-legged spacecraft to a gentle landing within seven minutes. Messages sent by the lander confirmed that all of the craft's systems were functioning "nominally" shortly after its landing.

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Maintaining a permanent human presence in lunar orbit will require a lot of support services that NASA can't handle on its own. The companies will bid contracts worth a combined value of $US2.6 ($4) billion.

But scientists did not expect to verify successful deployment of the solar arrays for at least several hours.

After initially landing, InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport, captured its first image of its surroundings.

The InSight probe touched down on Mars' Elysium Planitia area north of its equator after travelling at 13,200mph through the planet's atmosphere. So, once the InSight team is ready, they will set the Heat Probe down on the ground, likely after the seismic instrument is in position.

It will be the first time humans have tried to look beneath the surface on Mars. Its data also will help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own.

Earth's latest mission to Mars is reaching its conclusion Monday, and it's got NASA experts and the interested public holding their collective breath.