NASA Lander Arrives at Mars

The NASA lander Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, successfully touched down on the Red Planet this week ... after an almost seven-month, 300-million-mile journey from Earth. 

The landing was late Monday afternoon.

NASA scientists say InSight's two-year mission will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed. 

NASA reported that InSight, which launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California May 5, touched down Monday near Mars' equator on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava called Elysium Planitia.

Scientists say it was the eighth successful landing on Mars in human history.

If all goes well, InSight will begin to collect science data within the first week after landing, though managers say the teams will focus mainly on preparing to set InSight's instruments on the Martian ground. 

At least two days after touchdown, NASA managers say the plan is for the engineering team to begin to deploy InSight's 5.9-foot-long robotic arm so that it can take images of the landscape. 

Under the nominal mission profile, InSight will operate on the surface for one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days, or sols, until Nov. 24, 2020.

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