Not something you see every day!
After the rover’s successful landing on Mars yesterday, NASA has released the first image of the surface of the red planet. The image brings to view Elysium Planitia – a region on Mars where InSight first landed to begin its mission exploring and studying the inside of the red planet.
NASA’s spaceship called InSight, touched down on November 26 at 2:53 pm EST, and within minutes of landing, the rover sent the first image to Earth.
InSight’s view is a flat, smooth expanse called Elysium Planitia, but its workspace is below the surface, where it will study Mars’ deep interior. pic.twitter.com/3EU70jXQJw
— NASA (@NASA) November 26, 2018
The image was sent to Earth with two mini-satellites, Macro-A and Macro-B. Not much can be seen from the image, but it shows the horizon of Mars in the distance, and it looks flat. The image is partly concealed by a dust cover with debris after the hard landing. The duck cover will soon be removed and we will be able to have clearer images.
For now, only Elysium Planitia will be investigated on the surface as it is a stationary lander that was designed to look inside the red planet. They won’t explore more of the surface but they will use instruments to find out how the planet was formed and evolved. The InSight will drill a ‘hole’ there, to observe the temperature five meters down and assess the activity on the core of Mars.
They will monitor the wobble of the Earth with another instrument to find out the materials that make the core. A seismometer will measure seismic waves in the ground, caused by meteorites hitting the planet or the contraction of the planet itself. The rover will use two cameras to record deploying instruments with a robotic arm. This is the first probe in the world to use a robotic arm to deploy its own instruments.
The InSight landed successfully, sending the signal to NASA that everything was fine. Independent reported that a Mars landing is probably the most dangerous operations – with 17 attempts by humans to land on the red planet’s surface, 10 of which have failed.
This landing was almost a fail as well, as it crashed through the Martian atmosphere until it finally landed on the surface. It turned out to be a perfect landing, with all the satellites to communicate back to Earth working just as planned.
If everything goes according to the plan, the mission will last until November 2020, and hopefully, until then we’ll know more about Mars’ evolution.