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The landing of NASA InSight Mars sends a "beautiful" selfie from the surface of the red planet



NASA's new Mars landing vehicle has sent the first stunning of the surface of the red planet, taken at the end of a frightening journey.

In addition to showing the dusty red soil that is now home to the InSight landing vehicle, the photo marks the success of a journey that took seven months from Earth and culminated with a few nervous hours when InSight passed through the Martian atmosphere.

The photograph, which shows the InSight spacecraft in the front and the Martian surface below, is an incredible look at a world that has killed most of the launchers that have tried to travel there.

It also shows that all the systems in the ship are working. The photo was taken after the solar panels were successfully deployed from their sides to charge their batteries, and transmitted through the Mars Odyssey orbiter that floats around the planet and sends messages to Earth.

Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: "The InSight team can rest a little more tonight now that we know that the solar panels on the spacecraft are deployed and recharging the batteries .

"It's been a long day for the team.

"But tomorrow begins a new and exciting chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the implementation phase of the instrument."

Using the InSight robotic arm, which has an attached camera, the mission team will be able to take more photographs in the next few days, NASA said.

This will help engineers evaluate where to install the ship's scientific instruments, which can begin sending data to Earth in two or three months.

The InSight landing landed on Mars just before 8 pm GMT on Monday, surviving the so-called "seven minutes of terror", a difficult landing phase for the robotic probe, which travels at 13,200 mph through the planet's thin atmosphere , which provides little friction to reduce speed. down.

The two-year, $ 814 million (£ 633 million) mission of the US space agency Nasa aims to shed new light on how the Red Planet and its deep structure formed by mapping its core, crust and mantle.

InSight arrived at the Elysium Planitia area on Mars north of its equator, described as an ideal location because of its flat surface and no rocks.

It is the first attempt to reach Mars in six years.

Only 40% of the missions to the planet have been successful and all have been directed by the United States.

Three seismic instruments made in the United Kingdom are aboard InSight, part of a 4 million pound effort by the UK Space Agency to measure seismic waves.

Scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford who created the instruments will be based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to assist in the study, including selecting the best place for the robot arm to place the seismometer .

"It's wonderful news that the InSight spacecraft has landed safely on Mars," said Sue Horne, space exploration chief of the UK Space Agency.

"Scientists and engineers from the United Kingdom who participate in this mission have spent several years of their lives building the on-board seismometer, and the descent is always a worrisome time.

"Now we can expect the deployment of the instrument and the data that will begin to arrive in the new year, to improve our understanding of how the planet was formed."

A second instrument will sink five meters into the soil of Mars, measuring the temperature of the planet, while a third experiment will determine how Mars teeters on its axis.

Additional Press Association Reports


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