Watch Extremely Stoked NASA Engineers React in Emotional Mars Lander Video
NASA’s InSight lander safely arrived at Mars a little before 3 p.m. EST on Monday. Its success marks the beginning of a two-year-long exploration mission of the Martian surface and interior that has been a decade in the making and has cost about $1 billion.
The probe survived what NASA has referred to as its “seven minutes of terror,” the series of delicate maneuvers it had to pull off to stick its landing. Once the “touchdown confirmed” audio message came through the atmosphere at Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California went from dead-silent library to a raging nerd house party.
The entire monitoring room erupted in cheers, daps, and hugs. Two NASA engineers even busted out a choreographed, celebratory handshake for the occasion. Their interplanetary son had arrived at its new home and they were proud.
InSight has been in space since its May 5 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It took 205 days to travel 301,223,981 miles at a top speed of 6,200 mph.
During its descent through the Martian atmosphere, it reached speeds of up to 12,300 mph. InSight slowed itself down using a massive parachute and 12 rockets to gracefully perch the seismic lap of our planetary neighbor.
Years of work culminated to this roughly 20-minute landing procedure that would determine the rest of the InSight mission. It’s easy to see why NASA engineers were so hyped, especially when the agency’s success rate for Mars mission is only 41 percent, reports CNN
Now, InSight will begin collecting seismological, temperature, and location data on the red planet to help astronomers further understand the inner processes of rocky planets and perhaps even detect water underground. This could offer insights into the geographic and environmental history of Mars, but also of our very own planet.