NASA’s InSight spacecraft landed on Mars on Monday after an almost seven-month journey from Earth. And the lander celebrated its new home in an extra special way: with a selfie!
NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) landed successfully, taking about six-and-a-half minutes to make it through Mars’ atmosphere, according to NASA. Shortly after landing, the spacecraft used its robotic arm-mounted camera to take a close up of the planet, which showed part of the spacecraft.
A tweet on the account reads: “To the people who got me here, and all the fans who have cheered me on, this one’s for you! Now let’s all catch our breath before the deep science begins.”
Along with Insight’s selfie, the spacecraft took a snapshot of Mars’ surface, which lead scientist Bruce Banerdt called “nice and dirty,” according to CBS News.
InSight took off from California on May 5 and landed at 11:52 a.m. PST on Mars’ Elysium Planitia ( a smooth plain on the planet).
Its mission is to study Mars’ “deep interior” to shed some light on how it was formed.
“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement on Monday. “This accomplishment represents the ingenuity of America and our international partners, and it serves as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of our team. The best of NASA is yet to come, and it is coming soon.”
People gathered at planetariums, libraries and museums across the country to watch the landing monitored by NASA officials at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Emotions in the room ran high as NASA scientists eagerly awaited news of the confirmation.
When a flight controller declared “Touchdown confirmed!” cheers filled the room as scientists embraced each other and jumped for joy.
“I’m very, very happy that it looks like we have an incredibly safe and boring landing location,” project manager Tom Hoffman said, according to CBS. “That’s exactly what we were going for.”
InSight’s mission will last two years, operating on the planet’s surface for one Martian year and 40 additional Martian days (called “sols”) until Nov. 24, 2020, according to NASA.
Now, according to experts, the landing marks the beginning of a history-making mission
“In the coming months and years even, history books will be rewritten about the interior of Mars,” JPL director Michael Watkins said, according to CBS.