Published: Fri, December 14, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

NASA's InSight spacecraft sends home first selfie from the Red Planet

NASA's InSight spacecraft sends home first selfie from the Red Planet

In the very first selfie taken by InSight, the NASA probe looks ready and rarin' to go. The resulting photo shows InSight's solar panels and deck, along with the scientific instruments on top of the deck and the lander's weather sensor.

In addition, InSight sent another set of mosaic composed of 52 individual photos.

InSight will eventually use the almost six-foot long (2 meter) arm to pick up and carefully place the science instrument on the Martian surface. The machine must drill the surface of the red Planet on 6 meters and also to install a seismometer and heat probe. It will also be good for InSight to avoid rocks larger than about a half-inch across (1.3 centimeters).

"The near-absence of rocks, hills and holes means it'll be extremely safe for our instruments", InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in the same statement. We say pretty unsafe as to date crafts attempting to make a landing have only seen around a 50%-60% success rate.

InSight's landing team deliberately chose a landing region in Elysium Planitia that is relatively free of rocks. It is hoped data provided by InSight will give scientists back on Earth a better understanding of how terrestrials planets like our own are formed. InSight touched down in an nearly rock-free hollow, or a meteor impact area that filled with sand. NASA says that sandy composition will make it easier for the heat-flow probe to bore down to the 16-foot depth below the surface it needs to operate.

JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Earlier this week InSight sent NASA its first ever Mars wind recording.

A number of European partners, including France's Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. Fortunately though, it did successfully land, the solar panels have deployed and, all in all, everything is going entirely to plan. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland.

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