Cheers and fist-bump followed the nail-biting descent of NASA’s InSight probe on the red planet on Monday as the lander made a successful touchdown after a 7 month, 300m-mile journey. The aim of the waist-high spacecraft is to study the world’s deep interior and make it the only planet, after Earth to be examined this way. The agency’s chief administrator James Bridenstine termed the day as the most “amazing day” saying that the vehicle appears to be in good shape, as to the first communications received from the Martian surface.
This is the first successful attempt to touch down on the red planet since the Curiosity rover first arrived in 2012. Since then more than 23 attempts to reach Mars with rovers, orbiters and probes by space agencies from around the world have failed. NASA is the only space agency to achieve the feat. The mission will provide a milestone for NSA ambitious plan to send human explorers on the neighbouring plant in the 2030s.
As per a report from NASA, the lander sped faster than a bullet at 12,300 miles (19,800 kilometers) an hour, along with the scorching friction as it entered the Martian atmosphere.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, in an interview on NASA television afterwards, said that it was intense and one could feel the emotions.
InSight is the result of collaborations from agencies across the world. France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) made the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, the key element for sensing quakes, while the German Aerospace Center (DLR) provided a self-hammering mole that can burrow 16 feet (five meters) into the surface. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiologia made the spacecraft’s wind sensors.
Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika, the Swiss Institute of Technology and Britain’s Imperial College London and Oxford University also contributed towards NASA InSight probe.