NASA just showed us that selfies on earth are too mainstream. NASA’s Mars Lander – InSight, just sent us the first ever selfie from Mars. It touched down on the Red Planet earlier today, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for InSight. In what people are calling – “the seven minutes of terror”, it made its brave descent to the surface from the Martian atmosphere. The lander slowed its speed from a whopping 1200 mph to 5 mph and automatically deployed a parachute, gathered radar measurements and ignited its thrusters. All at the right time thanks to a highly intricate multistep routine. This by no means is going to be InSights last hurdle. It still needs to analyze and make sure none of the components and research instruments are damaged because of the long journey.
It landed on the Elysium Planitia plane, making it its new home. The lander sent back a couple of pictures to confirm that it has landed safely. One is a mere landscape view of the region through a dusty tube and the second is the selfie mentioned earlier. It also sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. “The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries,” said Tom Hoffman, InSight’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. InSight’s twin solar arrays are each 7 feet (2.2 meters) wide; when they’re open, the entire lander is about the size of a big 1960s convertible. The panels provide 600 to 700 watts on a clear day and about 200-300 watts on a dusty day (which would be quite often).
The entire project which was almost 10 years in the making and cost $ 1 billion, came to fruition earlier when they launched the Mars Lander. It traveled through space for about 6 1/2 months before hitting Mar’s atmosphere today. The Lander will carry out a 2 year (1 Mars year) plan where it will first deploy its instruments. And then commence drilling into the surface to study its seismic activity and collect data about the depths of the planet. Hopefully, giving us insights about the planet’s origins.