By Dan Purizhansky
The acquisition of greater knowledge of Mars has long been a key goal of scientists and science fiction writers. On Monday, November 26th, however, humanity came one step closer towards understanding the cosmos when the NASA InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) probe landed on the red planet after seven months of travel.
After travelling more than 301 million miles through space, the InSight probe’s task was to study Marsquakes and the interior of the planet. The probe was followed by two MarCO cube-shaped satellites that shared information about the InSight Mission with scientists and NASA headquarters. Upon arrival at Mars, the MarCO satellites finished their mission of escorting the InSight satellite and sent a final photograph of Mars to NASA.
Once in orbit at Mars, InSight began its robotic landing procedure. In an event characterized by what was described to be “seven minutes of terror” by NASA engineers, InSight decelerated from 12300 miles per hour to 5 mph as it touched down. Upon landing on Mars, the probe sent a beep to NASA Mission Control that signified that it had landed safely. This made InSight the eighth human-made satellite to successfully land on Mars. The NASA mission headquarters exploded into applause and Vice President Mike Pence promptly publicly congratulated the team.
Although the satellite has already securely landed on the red planet, it will take several months for most of the probe’s research to begin. InSight landed at Elysium Planitia, which is an ideal location for a stationary experiment due to relatively light weather conditions and flat terrain. Since the probe’s landing, NASA has received photographs and noises of wind on Mars. Humanity will need to wait two years to know the full results of the InSight probe findings.