At 2.53 pm EST, on Monday (November 26, 2018), NASA’s InSight probe successfully landed on the surface of Mars. InSight landed on an area of Mars called Elysium Planitia, which is the vast, flat expanse that can be seen in the pictures.
The pictures may be a little boring (no signs of life yet…), but the flat, featureless Elysium Planitia was the perfect place for the probe to land. The area is largely devoid of obstacles such as rocks and crevices, making it, according to a spokesperson for NASA, “the biggest parking lot on Mars”.
It’s difficult to make out due to dust covering the lens but the pictures show a large desert-like expanse of red-ish dust, that reaches all the way to the eerily-light horizon. The dust on the lens is from the impact of the landing and should be removed soon, hopefully leading to some clearer pictures. After all the technology needed to send such a sophisticated probe to Mars, you would think they would be able to attach a windscreen wiper to the lens, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing.
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 InSight probe is the eighth successful probe to land on Mars. Its mission is to study beneath the planet’s surface and hopefully tell us something about the planet’s history and how it is evolving. NASA plans for the probe to dig 5 metres below the surface with the hope of finding out if it still has an active core. Aside from this, another instrument will be trying to find out what the planet’s core is made of, while a third measures seismic waves. The instruments will be placed on the surface with the use of a robotic arm from the main probe. This makes InSight the first probe ever to use an arm to set up its own instruments on an alien planet.
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