NASA scientists celebrate InSight landing with handshake worthy of the National Basketball Association

Greg Lawrence
November 27, 2018

As reported by Wired, confirmation of the lander's touchdown was relayed to NASA engineers courtesy of two "briefcase-sized" satellites, dubbed Mars Cube One-A and Mars Cube One-B. Another will use the planet's poles to study its core, and one will hunt for "Marsquakes".

"While most of the country was enjoying Thanksgiving with their family and friends, the InSight team was busy making the final preparations for Monday's landing", said Tom Hoffman of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who is InSight's project manager.

A second instrument will burrow five metres into the ground of Mars, measuring the planet's temperature, while a third experiment will determine how Mars wobbles on its axis.

Seismic activity could come from various sources, Kirsten Siebach, assistant professor in Rice University's Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences told Gizmodo.

Quakes are a familiar feature of our tectonically active Earth.

InSight confirmed it was on the surface with a quick pulse shortly after 2 PM ET, making this the first NASA Mars landing in six years.

"Mars, although it may have started off in a similar place, is now certainly very different".

If Insight lives through the perilous descent and lands in one piece, it will mean a small corner of an alien planet will be forever British. They're not going that far. NASA received confirmation that the solar arrays were deployed at 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 November 27 GMT), about five-and-a-half hours after InSight landed on Mars.

"What a relief", Manning said.

College Football Rivalry Week
Ohio State remained No. 10 in the fourth edition of the College Football Playoff rankings , which were released Tuesday night. Alabama and Clemson would claim the first two spots, while every other conference title-winner would have three loses.

InSight, a $1 billion worldwide project, includes a German mechanical mole that will burrow down 16 feet (5 meters) to measure Mars' internal heat. However, it shows InSight is sitting level on a smooth area called Elysium Planitia. These vibrations will reveal where the rock layers are and what they are made of.

About 20 minutes before landing, InSight separated from the cruise stage that helped bring it all the way to Mars and turned to position itself for entering the atmosphere.

"In this way, seismology is like taking an X-ray of the interior of Mars". Some hypotheses suggest that there may be reservoirs of water just below the Martian surface, and the value of the heat flow number could help us understand whether these reservoirs are in a life-giving liquid state or are a not-so-life-giving solid ice.

During its two year mission on Mars, InSight will use instruments to study the planet's interior.

Congratulations flooded into the space agency following the success, including from Mike Pence, the United States vice president, who celebrated the "incredible milestone" of the country's eighth successful landing on Mars.

"We hit the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 miles per hour, and the whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only 6½ minutes", Hoffman said.

Unlike on previous missions, however, the InSight team had the benefit of two experimental satellites that tracked InSight's progress.

Mars' well-preserved interior provides a snapshot of what Earth may have looked like following its formation 4.5 billion years ago, according to Banerdt.

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