NASA spacecraft lands on Mars

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And since InSight will be conducting experiments for a whole Martian year on the Red Planet (which is about two earth years), the probe has a scaled-up solar panel model compared to the one NASA used in the six-month long Phoenix Mars Lander mission in 2008.

"It was intense and you could feel the emotion", said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, in an interview on NASA television afterward. Scientists will also be able to track radio signals from the stationary spacecraft, which vary based on the wobble in Mars' rotation, according to NASA.

InSight is the first robot to land on Mars in six years, . and has been created to delve deeper into the structure of the planet and how it was formed.

The first image has been released. "I've just received confirmation that there are no rocks in front of the lander", he told AFP.

The spacecraft is NASA's first to touch down on Earth's neighboring planet since the Curiosity rover arrived in 2012.

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NASA's online live broadcast reported InSight touched down on Mars at approximately 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT), after a six-month, 300-million-mile (480-million-km) journey.

The 360-kg InSight - its name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - marks the 21st US-launched Mars mission, dating back to the Mariner fly-bys of the 1960s.

"We never take Mars for granted".

Flight controllers announced that the spacecraft InSight touched down Monday, after a perilous supersonic descent through the red Martian skies.

A carefully orchestrated sequence - already fully preprogrammed on board the spacecraft - unfolded over the following several minutes, coined "six and a half minutes of terror". Mars has an incredibly thin atmosphere which means there is very little friction to help slow down a spacecraft.

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InSight began the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) procedure when it reached the Martian atmosphere at 2:47pm ET, 80 miles above the planet's surface.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) provided a self-hammering mole that can burrow 16 feet (five meters) into the surface - further than any instrument before - to measure heat flow.

Three of InSight's seismic instruments were designed and built in Britain.

While the United States space agency tweeted pictures and videos of excited scientists breaking up in applause and loud cheers, Twitter users were particularly amused by the "silly high-five/dance" of two excited team members as soon as the rover touched base.

Together, the instruments will study geological processes, said Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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"Ultimately, the day is coming when we land humans on Mars", Bridenstine said, adding that the goal is to do so by the mid 2030s.

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