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You can see more fantastic InSight Mars landing day photos here.

Catherine Johnson is a UBC planetary scientist who is the only Canadian involved in the latest NASA mission to Mars.

The journey to Mars has been described by NASA engineers as "seven minutes of terror", as more landers have failed than have succeeded. This accomplishment represents the ingenuity of America and our worldwide partners, and it serves as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of our team.

As soon as the spacecraft touched the surface of the red planet, cheers and applause erupted at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

InSight (the name is short for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport") launched toward the Red Planet on May 5.

After reaching Mars' atmosphere a little before 3 PM EST, InSight made a nerve-racking descent to the planet's surface. Almost two dozen other Mars missions have been sent by other countries. We can now look forward to the deployment of the instrument and the data that will start to arrive in the new year, to improve our understanding of how the planet formed.

For eight minutes on Monday afternoon, a crowd in a museum gallery at the University of British Columbia watched in rapt silence as a livestream broadcast a NASA spacecraft descending into Mars.

The nail-biting entry, descent and landing phase began at 11:47 am (1940 GMT) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, home to mission control for Mars InSight, and ended one second before 1953 GMT.

Only 40% of missions sent to the Red Planet by any agency have been successful.

NASA chose for Insight to land on Elysium Planitia, a flat quiet area of Mars so Insight can work smoothly and quietly during its mission. The Mars InSight faced a harrowing near seven-minute plunge through the planet's thin atmosphere at supersonic speeds before touching down.

At 2:47 p.m. ET, the entry, descent and landing phase began, and InSight came blazing into the atmosphere at 12,300 miles per hour.

"Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration", noted InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt. "But even after landing, we'll need to be patient for the science to begin".

While InSight's main mission goals are hidden away out of sight under the planet's surface, it is equipped with two cameras designed for navigation and hazard avoidance. It is a geophysical station to be placed on the surface with passive instruments that will sense the interior structure. Meanwhile, mission scientists will photograph what can be seen from the lander's perspective and monitor the environment.

"We are solar-powered, so getting the arrays out and operating is a big deal", Hoffman said. After almost a decade of preparation, building and testing we are incredibly excited that the science can now start. "Wwe are well on our way to thoroughly investigate what's inside of Mars for the very first time".

Then, it fired its retro rockets to slowly descend to the surface of Mars, and landed on the smooth plains of Elysium Planitia, Xinhua news agency reported. Because it won't be roving over the surface, the landing site was an important determination.

InSight will unfurl its solar panels and robotic arm and study the entire planet from its parking spot. "We never take Mars for granted". The ICC delivered the lander's first image. But it proves that cube satellites can survive the trek into deep space.


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