NASA’s $1 billion new Mars rover has successfully landed on the red planet after a nerve-wracking six and a half minutes of terror, when it broke through the Martian atmosphere and was subjected to temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The InSight rover has been traveling through space for six months, but its long journey ultimately boiled down to a few minutes yesterday afternoon as it attempted to plant its feet on the surface. Its descent started just before 3 p.m. EST with helpless scientists waiting on the final word from a pair of Mars orbiters dubbed Wall-E and Eve to confirm touchdown. Less than eight minutes after breaking through the atmosphere at 12,300 miles per hour, the team confirmed it had successfully made it to the surface, slowing to just 5 mph before putting its feet on the ground. Scientists could be seen jumping and cheering in the control room as they marked the successful landing. The newly minted Mars rover even managed to send an image back to Earth moments after setting down – but, it left the dust-covered lens cap on for a blurry first look at its new home.
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Our Mars Odyssey orbiter phoned home, relaying news from @NASAInSight indicating its solar panels are open & collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. Also in the dispatch: this snapshot from the lander's arm showing the instruments in their new home: https://t.co/WygR5X2Px4 pic.twitter.com/UwzBsu8BNe
— NASA (@NASA) November 27, 2018