CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Minutes after touching Mars, the InSight Space Ship sent back a "beautiful and dirty" snapshot of its new digging. However, the image created by dust seemed an art work for scientists.
The photograph revealed an almost smooth and sandy field around the spacecraft, with a single visible stone.
"I am very, very happy that we seem to have an incredibly safe and boring landing site," project manager Tom Hoffman said after contacting Monday. "That's exactly why I was going."
A better image came an hour later, and more are expected in the next few days, after the dust caps arrive from the lander's rooms.
The spacecraft arrived on Mars after a dangerous, supersonic plunge through the red sky that lasted only six minutes.
"Touchdown confirmed!" A flight controller called just before 3:00. EST, triggering jubilation among scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who excitedly expects to enter a space of 160 million kilometers.
It was NASA's eighth successful landing at Mars from the Viking Records in 1976, and the first in six years. NASA's Curiosity Rover, which arrived in 2012, is still on the move.
Due to the distance between Earth and Mars, it took 8 minutes for confirmation, transmitted by a pair of tiny satellites that crossed InSight during its six-month trip of 482 million kilometers.
"Flawless," said Rob Manning, chief engineer at JPL. "Sometimes things work in your favor."
InSight, a $ 1 billion international project, includes a German honeycomb that will drop to 5 meters to measure Marte's internal warmth. Lander also has a French earthquake measuring earthquake, if it exists on our smaller, geologically quieter neighbor. Another experiment will calculate the spin of Mars to reveal the makeup of the planet.
Monday, NASA reported that the ship's vital solar networks were opened and recharged their batteries.
In the next few "soils" – or in the 24-hour Martian days, 39 1/2 minutes – flight controllers will assess the health of InSight's robot robot and its scientific instruments. It will take several months to set up and adjust the instruments, and scientist Bruce Banerdt said he does not expect to receive a solid data stream by the end of next spring.
Banerdt called the first InSight image of the surface, the first science, though "beautiful and dirty." He said the image would be cleansed, and black spots would disappear. This photo came from a ground camera. Monday, NASA released a clean photo of a larger room that showed some lander and landscape.
InSight of 800 kilograms (360 kilograms) is stationary and will work from the same point for the next two years, the duration of a Martian year.
"In the coming months and years to come, history books will be rewritten inside Mars," said JPL director Michael Watkins.
NASA went with its old simple approach this time, using a parachute and braking engine to get InSight from 12,300 mph (19,800 km / h) when it pierced the Martian atmosphere to about 77 miles (114 kilometers) at touch. The danger was that the spacecraft could burn in the atmosphere or jump from it.
Many Mars spacecraft launched by the United States, Russia and other countries have been lost or destroyed over the years, with a success rate of just 40%, without counting InSight.
Three-legged InSight sat on the western side of Elysium Planitia, the plain NASA was looking for.
Museums, planetariums and libraries in the US the parties were watching to watch the JPL events. NASA was also featured on New York's giant Times Square, where crowds gathered under the umbrellas in the rain.
"An amazing day for our country," said Jim Bridenstine, presiding his first Mars landing as NASA chief.
Mars' well-preserved interior provides a picture of what the Earth can show as a result of its 4.5 billion years ago, according to Banerdt. While Earth is seismically active, Mars "decided to rest on laurels" after it was formed, he said.
By examining and mapping the interior of Mars, scientists hope to find out why the rocky planets in our solar system have proven to be so different and why Earth has become a refuge for life.
However, there are no InSight life detectors. NASA's next mission, the Mars 2020 rover, is heading for rocks that could contain evidence of ancient life. The question of whether life has ever existed in Mars's wet and watery past is what NASA is holding back to the fourth rock of the sun.
After InSight landed, the two experimental satellites marred Mars' past, their main job being done. One took a last photo of the red planet that chief engineer Andy Klesh called "farewell to InSight … farewell to Mars."
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