With InSight on Mars, Scientists Feel Earthly Relief, Get to Work

"But I do think it's a great thing for humankind to go to Mars and we should definitely do it", Wilson said. The second phase will be characterized mainly by deploying and configuring special tools of research Rover and their subsequent use in the process of drilling and analysis of rocks.

"It is wonderful news that the InSight spacecraft has landed safely on Mars".

And since InSight will be conducting experiments for a whole Martian year on the Red Planet (which is about two earth years), the probe has a scaled-up solar panel model compared to the one NASA used in the six-month long Phoenix Mars Landermission in 2008. At the minimum, there's an eight-minute communication lag between Mars and Earth. That is the goal of the new space Rover, which should also reveal many interesting points.

"It was nearly hard to believe this wasn't written by some Hollywood writer to put the ideal amount of delay in there - so that everybody sat on the edge of their seat". However, in the event of special moments, the Rover system is provided with a reinforced drilling and splitting of samples.

The suite of geophysical instruments will take measurements of Mars' internal activity like seismology and the wobble as the sun and its moons tug on the planet.

Nasa officials say it will take two to three months for the main instruments to be deployed and put into operation.

These twin Cubesats are the first of their kind to ever travel to another planet, and are already, successfully relaying important data to Earth, connecting us to Mars like never before.

"MarCO-A and B are our first and second interplanetary CubeSats created to monitor InSight for a short period around landing, if the MarCO pair makes it to Mars", Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division, said in a statement.

The round, dome-shaped seismometer will sit on the surface and sense vibrations, or, as they're known on Mars, Marsquakes.

"Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration", noted InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt.

InSight's primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, created to record the slightest vibrations from "marsquakes" and meteor impacts around the planet.

Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles burst into cheers, applause and hugs as they received signals confirming InSight's arrival on Martian soil - a vast, barren plain near the planet's equator - soon before 3pm EST on Monday.

Banerdt called InSight's first snapshot of the surface the first bit of science, albeit "nice and dirty". On clear days, the panels will provide InSight with between 600 and 700 watts - enough to power the blender on your kitchen counter, NASA said.

InSight contains key instruments that were contributed by several European space agencies.

Right after it landed, Insight sent back a picture.

Vanessa Coleman

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