NASA scientists celebrate InSight landing with handshake worthy of the National Basketball Association

NASA's In Sight lander shared its first view from the surface.                  NASA  JPL-Caltech

NASA's In Sight lander shared its first view from the surface. NASA JPL-Caltech

In this 2015 photo made available by NASA, a technician prepares the InSight spacecraft for thermal vacuum testing in its "cruise" configuration for its flight to Mars, simulating the conditions of outer space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver.

XQc probably could have picked a better example than the Moon Landing, where radio signals had to travel roughly 238,900 miles from the Moon to Earth with equipment available nearly 50 years ago. The long-awaited landing came with the usual "seven minutes of terror" while signals from Mars crawled back to Earth at the speed of light. Although InSight will also have an onboard weather station and suite of cameras, the mission's focus is on peeling back the profound mysteries of the Martian interior. "This one insane number will tell us so much about the history of Mars as well as the present day-that's what I'm most excited to get".

It was NASA's - indeed, humanity's - eighth successful landing at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes, and the first in six years. It landed less than 400 miles (600 kilometers) from NASA's Curiosity rover, which until Monday was the youngest working robot in town.

"This is really good news", said Rob Manning, JPL's chief engineer. "This is what we really hoped and imagined in our mind's eye", he added. "Sometimes things work out in your favor".

Ultimately, these measurements won't just inform scientists about Mars, but about rocky planets in general.

The U.S., however, has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past four decades, not counting InSight, with only one failed touchdown.

"We hit the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 mph (19,800 kilometers per hour), and the whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only six-and-a-half minutes", said InSight project manager Tom Hoffman at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Flight controllers were relieved to find out promptly that Insight made it to the surface and didn't burn up in the atmosphere or bounce off it.

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The landing was watched around the world and even broadcast live on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City's Times Square. The self-hammering mole will burrow 5 meters (16 feet) down to measure the planet's internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes. The InSight lander is interested in the Red Planet as a whole, including what's happening deep beneath the surface.

InSight's primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, created to record the slightest vibrations from "marsquakes" and meteor impacts around the planet.

A second instrument will burrow five metres into the ground of Mars, measuring the planet's temperature, while a third experiment will determine how Mars wobbles on its axis. InSight will spend two years investigating the interior where the building blocks below the planet's surface that recorded its history.

"My first picture on #Mars!".

In 2003, the Beagle II craft disappeared during an attempt to land on the Red Planet and its wreckage was only discovered in 2015.

Together, the instruments will study geological processes, said Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The instruments will have to be set up and fine-tuned.

"We never take Mars for granted". "The more marsquakes, the better". Here's a look at some of the most exciting reactions.

Although an old pro at this, Nasa last attempted a landing at Mars six years ago. While Earth is active seismically, Mars "decided to rest on its laurels" after it formed, he said. "Once InSight is settled on the Red Planet and its instruments are deployed, it will start collecting valuable information about the structure of Mars' deep interior - information that will help us understand the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including the one we call home".

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