Space Swoon: NASA InSight Lander sends back gorgeous image of the Martian horizon
It can feel like everything is shit these days, for sure. I get it, I get it. But, when I’m down, news like this picks me up a notch. We got a goddamn lander sending back pictures from Mars. Mars!
NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) probe successfully completed its soft landing on Mars on Monday after a six-month, 300 million mile journey. And it’s already sending back photos of the desolate Red Planet from its landing site on the Elysium Planitia, courtesy of a post on the lander’s official Twitter feed reading, “There’s a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home.”
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 27, 2018
InSight has already deployed its two decagonal solar arrays, which span seven feet each and provide the craft’s operational power supply. Its mission is to provide insights into how rocky planets like Mars form and evolve over time, and it’s equipped with instruments including a seismometer, a burrowing heat probe, and radio science gear.
Per a NASA statement, InSight will begin collecting some data within its first week of operations, though its Earth-based staff are primarily working on activating and calibrating its systems. One of the first tasks on its list is deploying a 5.9-foot robotic arm that will take photos of the Martian landscape, which will be completed in a few days. Many of its experiments will take time to develop, as NASA will require extensive data to decide where to deploy the seismometer and burrowing heat probe, and may have to wait further still for any seismic activity to be detected.