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

Mars In Sight Lander Successfully Touches Down on The Red Planet

Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO)

Only six-and-a-half harrowing minutes later, after ejecting its heatshield, deploying a supersonic parachute and firing retrorockets, its speed had dramatically slowed to a jogging pace after traversing the 130 kilometers between Mars's upper atmosphere and the planet's arid surface.

However, it is notoriously hard to touch down on Mars.

As soon as the announcement was made that InSight was on the ground and doing fine, the pair of mission controllers rolled out a multi-part handshake worthy of the biggest touchdown celebration.

Nasa's Insight spacecraft is about to reach the most risky part of its journey from Earth to Mars. "The details like thickness and composition give clues to how they form and the different paths they took to form the planets we see today".

Radio signals confirming the landing took more than eight minutes to cross the almost 160 million kilometers (100 million miles) between Mars and Earth. While surveying the landing site during the planning phase of InSight's mission, scientists studied the ejecta from small impact craters scattered across Elysium Planitia.

It was the first time the USA space agency tried to land a spacecraft on Mars since 2012, when the Curiosity rover arrived, and its eighth successful overall. "We know a lot of about its surface, its atmosphere and ionosphere, but not a lot about the first two miles of Mars' crust", the scientists said.

InSight is set to be the first probe sent to investigate the interior of Mars.

The first image from InSight
Source NASA

Still, there are no life detectors aboard InSight. 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 seismic waves marsquakes produce will be used by InSight to create a 3-D picture of Mars's interior-but they can also be used to study meteorites thudding into the surface.

Lead scientist Bruce Banerdt warned it will be a slow-motion mission.

"In this way, seismology is like taking an X-ray of the interior of Mars".

Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles said the successful landing was confirmed by signals relayed to Earth from one of two miniature satellites that were launched along with InSight and flying past Mars when it arrived shortly before 3pm EST (4am Singapore time).

'It will also be useful in allowing us to understand how many planets in other star systems there might be which could have the right conditions to support life, ' she said.

Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions.

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