|Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin, used under Public Domain|
It took six months and more than 300 million miles, but NASA’s InSight lander is now safe and sound on the surface of Mars and transmitting back the first bits of data to scientists here on Earth.
Among the first observations sent back to Earth from Mars is a collection of 1-megapixel photos captured with its onboard Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC). The images, which were transmitted by relaying the data to NASA’s Odyssey orbiter that’s currently orbiting Mars before being sent back down to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are the first of many that will be transmitted back to Earth during InSight’s two-year mission to study the interior of Mars.
The first publicly-shared photo sent back was one captured before the lens cap was removed from the camera, as evident from the dust covering the image.
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 26, 2018
The second image shared by NASA shows off a bit of the spacecraft itself with Elysium Planitia, a large plain on the equator of Mars that’s located in the Elysium and Aeolis quadrangles, in the background.
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 27, 2018
The landing site, which is approximately 370 miles north of where NASA’s Curiosity rover is rolling around the Martian surface, will now be scanned and covered with various scientific instruments as part of InSight’s mission to ‘probe the mysteries of Mars’s deep interior and help answer geophysical questions about the planet’s structure, composition and how it formed,’ as noted by The New York Times.