Although NASA emphasized the experimental nature of the cubesats prior to the landing, the MarCO spacecraft performed as intended, receiving the UHF telemetry from InSight during its entry, descent and landing phase and rebroadcasting it at X-band frequencies received by NASA's Deep Space Network.
After years of preparation, NASA scientists successfully landed the InSight probe on Mars on Monday.
The three-legged InSight settled on the western side of Elysium Planitia, the plain that NASA was aiming for. "Expecting to traverse the contemporary home". InSight will now deploy a Seismometer (to measure ground movement) and burrow the beneath surface to measure the temperature. One of the initial tasks on its to do list is stationing a 5.9-foot robotic arm that will capture photographs of the Martian landscape, which will progress towards its conclusion in a few days' time.
"Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will remain on Mars for two years mission to study the planet's deep interior.
The robot will spend 24 months, which is the equivalent of about one Martian year, using seismic monitoring and underground drilling to observe seismic waves bouncing around the planet. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: "surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase". The photo was marred by hundreds of blurry specs of Martian dust (the transparent lens cover was still on the camera mounted under InSight's landing deck), but beyond these cosmetic blemishes, the Mars surface was clear.
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"Mars is on the cusp between being an active planet and a dead planet, in terms of its capacity to evolve", Bibring says.
The first image has already been beamed down Earth by the lander.
The spacecraft arrived at Mars after a perilous, supersonic plunge through its red skies that took just six minutes.
Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the U.S., Russian Federation and other countries have been lost or destroyed over the years, with a success rate of just 40 percent, not counting InSight. Project manager Tom Hoffman said the spacecraft landed close to the bull's-eye, but NASA did not have yet have the final calculations.
Still, there are no life detectors aboard InSight. It could also help scientists understand what caused Mars, which was made from similar materials as Earth, to become a very different place from our own planet.