NASA Control Room Erupts in Celebration Over Successful Spacecraft Touchdown on Mars

In this image provided by NASA Mars In Sight team members Kris Bruvold left and Sandy Krasner rejoice Monday Nov. 26 2018 inside the Mission Support Area at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena Calif. after receiving confirmation that

A NASA spacecraft created to drill down into Mars' interior landed on the planet Monday after a perilous, supersonic plunge through its red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists who had waited in white-knuckle suspense for confirmation to arrive across 100 million miles of space.

'The mission will help us to understand how planets form and evolve, ' she added.

InSight was shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas. So, engineers from the space agency were twitchy sending off InSight and its satellites, particularly when it hit Mars" atmosphere and was faced with "seven minutes of terror'.

Touchdown was streamed live by JPL in Pasadena, California, but there's an 8 minute signal delay between Earth and Mars, the next planet outward from the sun.

A image transmitted from Mars by the In Sight lander is seen on a computer screen at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Monday Nov. 26 2018 in Pasadena Calif
NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Lands Successfully On Mars After 300-Million-Mile Journey

The first picture taken by InSight during landing.

NASA's newest Mars probe, InSight, made a stunning, successful landing on the red planet on Monday afternoon.

"MarCO was there to relay information back from InSight in real time, and we did that extraordinarily well", said Andy Klesh, MarCO chief engineer, at a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory here November 26 two hours after the InSight landing.

Speeding faster than a bullet at 12,300 miles (19,800 kilometers) an hour, the heat-shielded spacecraft encountered scorching friction as it entered the Mars atmosphere.

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U.S. eastern time. When confirmation of the landing came through, mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab erupted in applause and cheers. Lockheed Martin worked with NASA engineers to ensure the spacecraft could withstand the stress of entry and descent. InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, and NASA hopes they'll be able to use it for the next 2 years in order to study Mars' seismic activity and environmental conditions. "But even after landing, we'll need to be patient for the science to begin", Bruce Banerdt of JPL, InSight's principal investigator, said, according to the NASA statement.

Mars looms ever larger in America's space future.

"Here's a quick-and-dirty attempt at processing out distortion in the first image from InSight", Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor at the Planetary Society, wrote on Twitter.

NASA officials say InSight's instruments should be up and running in about two or three months. Only 40% of missions to the planet have succeeded and all have been US-led. Because it won't be roving over the surface, the landing site was an important determination.

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

A series of instruments, including a drill that can bury down several feet, will be used to measure the internal temperature of Mars and the wobble of its poles.

Scientists hope that this information can help us have a better understanding of how planets are formed - including our own.

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