Nov 27 2018
09:33 am

One of the first images from the landing site

NASA's InSight landed on Mars yesterday at 2:52:59 p.m. ET. The stationary lander's mission is to study seismic activity on Mars and to learn more about its interior makeup.

The mission launched on May 5th from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After a more than sixth month journey, scientists and engineers at JPL waited breathlessly during the 80 mile descent through Mars' atmosphere. Mission Control erupted in cheers when data indicated a successful landing. There is no remote control, because signals take eight minutes to transmit each way between Earth and Mars. All the calculations and programming had to be nearly perfect with little margin for error.

InSight landed in an area called Elysium Planitia near the Mars equator. The site was chosen for its stability and safety and for its atmospheric conditions.

The lander is outfitted with solar panels and batteries designed to last through about two years (about one Mars year) of research. The science goals are to study how a rocky body forms and evolves to become a planet and to determine the rate of tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars. Instruments include an ultra-sensitive seismometer, a heat probe that will burrow five meters below the surface, and a radio instrument that measures Mars' wobble during its orbit for clues about the makeup of its core.

MORE: NASA Mission Page

SEE ALSO: MarCO cubesat communications experiment

R. Neal's picture

Follow the link at '80 mile

Follow the link at '80 mile descent' and spend a few minutes watching. It will give you hope for the future and these kids today.

R. Neal's picture

Speaking of calculations and

Speaking of calculations and programming that have to be nearly perfect...

The Mars Climate Orbiter

So how did the probe miss its target? A software error. One piece of code dealt with Newtons, while the other assumed Pounds, resulting in a ~90 km difference in predicted and actual altitude.

What a tragedy to have spent $193.1 million on spacecraft development, $91.7 million on the launch and $42.8 million on operations only to have the spacecraft plummet into the Martian atmosphere because two programmers - each of whom wrote great code –didn’t discuss the units.

captainkona's picture

Tragic waste of resources

Hundreds of millions of dollars to get pictures and dust from a dried up rock in space.

Anyone here good at math? I'd like to know how many people could have been fed, clothed and healed with that money.

R. Neal's picture

About 6 million bags of pot,

About 6 million bags of pot, or about half the amount sold in Colorado last year.

Somebody's picture

Expansion of human knowledge

Expansion of human knowledge is a benefit in its own right, without even getting into direct practical applications.

Nonetheless, Insight is going to provide information on Martian planetary geology. This in turn will provide comparative information to better understand earthly planetary geology. As we live on planet earth and are subject to its geological (and other environmental) whims, millions of lives could be affected by this increased understanding.

To characterize this mission as merely ‘getting pictures and dust from a dried up rock in space’ is to take up a position of willful ignorance to advocate for more willful ignorance. That’s no less a denial of science than small-minded Senators throwing snowballs in Congress to claim climate change isn’t real.

tlc's picture


Please don't feed the troll.

bizgrrl's picture

Love that there is some

Love that there is some dedication to science left in us. Loved watching the mix of young and older people working together on such a grand project. Their excitement is infectious.

jbr's picture

Benefits from space program

Take note of next page link at bottom ...

Benefits from space program

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