Discovering Mars: Gaining InSight

Brooke Diamond, Staff Writer

After seven long months and 301,223,981 miles traveled, NASA lander mission “InSight” completed its first step in a complex series of gaining new information on the enigmatic planet Mars.

A look at InSight before liftoff

InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) officially touched down on the surface of Mars yesterday, November 26, 2018, at 2:54 p.m. ET. Thousands of people gathered at the Nasdaq Stock Market tower at Times Square to celebrate and cheer as the spacecraft plummeted towards the surface at 12,300 mph, slowing down to just 5 mph before it gently landed on the top of the red planet.

Statistically, it is quite likely for something to go wrong at one point during a spacecraft’s lifespan. In the past, only 40% of Mars missions by any space agency have been successful. The landing process, while only taking about seven minutes to complete, takes a grievous and back-breaking amount of work to complete successfully, earning it a special name from NASA employees: “the seven minutes of terror.”

Second photograph from @NASAInSight Twitter account

The future for InSight and its missions are looking bright. It proved successful even before the spacecraft even touched the surface of the red planet, taking pictures of Mars from about 4,700 miles away at 3:10 p.m. ET. The next step in this complicated expedition is using the lander’s specialized instruments to complete a variety of important experiments. These include the usage of the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures in order to determine what causes seismic waves on Mars, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package which will burrow beneath the planet’s surface to understand how heat flows out of Mars, and the Rotation and

First photograph from @NASAInSight Twitter account

Interior Structure Experiment which will use radios to study the planet’s core, and its composition.

These experiments may be important, but keeping fans of Mars InSight in the loop is important to this triumph as well. A Twitter account, @NASAInSight, has been keeping updates, with tweets such as “My first picture on #Mars! My lens cover isn’t off yet, but I just had to show you a first look at my new home.” or “There’s a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home. #MarsLanding.” These simple tweets didn’t stand alone though–they came with two never-before-seen pictures of Mars’ surface in all of its rocky glory.

“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history. InSight will study the interior of Mars and will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars. 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,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine stated after the successful landing of the spacecraft. This important event marks a

MarCO photograph of Mars from 4,700 miles away at 3:10 p.m. ET, Nov. 26. 2018

historical moment for America and the future of space science. Scientists, as well as ordinary people from around the globe, look forward to the inevitably drastic differences this mission will make in the future.