A decade-old mission with a making budget close to a billion was successfully accomplished on Monday as NASA’s InSight robotic lander, touched down on the surface of Mars just a few minutes before 12:00 PT.
The final moments of the spacecraft’s descent witnessed an eerie silence wrapping up the mission control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as updates on InSight’s status blared from the Public Address system:
“Altitude 300 meters… 200 meters… 80 meters… 60 meters … 50 meters, constant velocity 37 meters… 30 meters … 20 meters… 17 meters… standing by for touchdown… Touchdown confirmed! InSight is on the surface of Mars!” (as reported by Wired).
Thank you so much to my incredible team who got me safely to #Mars. Hear from some of them on how my #MarsLanding went. Tune in at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET): https://t.co/oig27aMjZd pic.twitter.com/xbS9W4YFUI
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 26, 2018
The engineers in mission control immediately exploded into merriment and warm handshakes and hugs. News of the successful touchdown was relayed back to Earth via two communication satellites which were briefcase-sized named Mars Cube One-A and Mars Cube One-B. Both the satellites accompanied InSight on its journey to Mars and monitored the movement and progress of the spacecraft from high above the planet.
As NASA was preparing for the touch down of InSight, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk declared that he feels there is a 70% chance that he would end up moving to Mars and that he would die there.
What an accomplishment. @NASAInSight marks the eighth time in human history we have successfully landed on Mars.
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) November 26, 2018
“Flawless.. flawless,” said Rob Manning, chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, amidst the celebration of his colleagues. He added that this is what they really hoped and imagined in their mind’s eye. NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine proudly declared that this is the 8th time in human history that Earth has reached Mars. He added that InSight will study the interior of Mars which has remained unexplored till date which will educate the scientists enough to prepare for sending astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars.
Another secret is NASA engineers sent the spacecraft’s last software update, the previous day. That fine-tuned some of the calculation so it knew how to guide itself down to the planet. The update turned out to be vital as it could successfully guide itself down to the Red Planet.
Aaah…soaking up the Sun with my solar panels. 🌞 After a long flight, and thrilling #MarsLanding, it feels great to get a good stretch and recharge my batteries. (Like, literally.) It’s just what I’ll need to really start getting in tune with #Mars. https://t.co/yse3VEst3G pic.twitter.com/LpsiI0KNNz
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 27, 2018
Venturing into the deep space has become a cakewalk for the NASA. Each year they are sending rockets and space crafts to space and they just seem to get better and more precise with each launching of a space body. This rapid progress is natural when the best of human minds come together. They will leave no corner of this vast space alone until they have explored each square inch and possess answers to every ‘why, what, which, when and how?’ The smooth landing of InSight is another telling improvement on the part of its makers. Such high accuracy and timely updates to the spacecraft from millions of miles away makes us all wonder at the potential of the human brain.
InSight gives us a clear picture of how the future of mankind might be. The zeal with which these scientists are carrying on, our children might soon go to other planets for a fun summer vacation.