It's a busy time for NASA, and when the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the agency celebrated the successful landing of its InSight Mars landing today (November 26), the Administrator of the agency Jim Bridenstine focuses on the future.
Bridenstine shared some words from the bustling mission control center, moving away from the celebrations to talk to NASA television.
"I'll tell him it was intense and he could feel the emotion," Bridenstine told Gay Yee Hill, a spokeswoman for JPL, during the webcast. "It was very, very quiet when it came time to be quiet and, of course, very festive with every bit of new information that was received, it is very different to be here than to see it on television, by far. Now that I have experienced both. " [NASA’s InSight Mars Lander: Amazing Landing Day Photos!]
Bridenstine added that just after the landing was confirmed, he received a call from a number that appeared "with all the zeros" on his phone. It turned out to be Mike Pence, the vice president of EE. UU., Who called to congratulate the team. Pence is also president of the National Space Council.
congratulations to @POT, @Lockheed Martin, @ulalaunch, and all those who did today @NASAInSight #MarsLanding possible! This marks the eighth time that EE. UU Land on Mars and the first mission to study its deep interior. Incredible milestone! https://t.co/plgJch3Vpc
– Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) November 26, 2018
The successful landing of InSight after a trip of almost seven months is enormously significant for Mars scientists, who now have a tool to explore more deeply on the planet than ever before. After its solar panels are successfully deployed, the lander will explore below the planet's surface and measure meteor impacts and other seismic activity to learn about the interior structure of Mars. The researchers said during the webcast that the first scientific data should arrive around March 2019.
Looking to the future of the agency, Bridenstine issued a long list of upcoming events for NASA: a US astronaut. UU It will be launched at the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on December 3, the first scientific data from Parker Solar Probe return On December 7 and OSIRIS-REx will arrive at the asteroid Bennu at the end of December.
Then, on January 1, the New Horizons probe that flew on Pluto in July 2015 will reach the distant object of the Ultima Thule solar system, and send images taken a short distance away from the incredibly distant object.
"Questions what happens next?" Bridenstine said. "At this moment, at NASA there is more going on probably than [since] I do not know how many years passed. It is as if there were a drought and, suddenly, all these activities at once. Then, we are busy. We will work during the holidays, many incredible discoveries will be made and we are waiting for you. "
Returning to InSight, Bridenstine added that everything we learn about Mars, as if it has water below its surface, will help humans to visit and access the planet's resources. He added that the current directive of the agency is to send humans to the Moon first, that "we need to use the Moon as a testing ground to accelerate our path to Mars", but that "meanwhile, we are doing missions like InSight to learn as much on Mars as possible. "
Later, at a press conference, Bridenstine spoke in detail about NASA's plans for the exploration of the moon, but emphasized again that Mars was on the horizon.
"We are testing the ability and technology to go to Mars even faster than we could if we did not use the moon as a tool," said Bridenstine. "The reality is, yes, your nation at this moment is extremely committed to reaching Mars and using the Moon as a tool to achieve that goal as quickly as possible."