New Mars lander safely touches down. What happens now?
NASA's InSight lander has reached the optimal spot for getting to the heart of the red planet.
Pasadena, CaliforniaAfter a 205-day journey through space, NASA’s InSight lander is safely on the surface of Mars. Tasked with peering beneath the Martian surface and mapping the planet’s underworld, InSight touched down at 2:52 p.m. ET in a sunny patch of boring landscape inside the equatorial plains of Elysium Planitia.
Anxious teams of scientists and engineers, clustered together at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, knew the spacecraft had survived its wild and tricky descent to the red planet’s surface after receiving data suggesting the lander had touched down safely—followed by an image from InSight itself showing a dusty, alien horizon with a single robot foot.
“It’s nice and dirty; I like that,” says Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator. “This