Plummeting through the atmosphere at over 19,000 kilometres per hour, the latest mission to Mars landed safely on Monday morning, its landing relayed back to Earth in near-real time by two cubesats that raced there to cover the event.
A former member of Northern Michigan University's Board of Trustees is in a key role at NASA, where scientists are celebrating Monday's successful touchdown on Mars. Just north of its equator, it's also a great place for InSight's solar panels to generate power for long periods.
Together, these instruments will study geological processes, said Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This will help engineers to assess where to install the spacecraft's scientific instruments, which will be able to start sending back data to Earth within two to three months.
According to CNN, the two NASA engineers started planning the handshake approximately six weeks ago, studying every detail of Goodwin's and Bourne's handshake and practicing them to make sure everything was flawless once the InSight spacecraft landed on the red planet. It will also slam a self-hammering heat flow probe about 16 feet into the Martian surface to take the planet's temperature.
An artist's conception of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars with its seismometer (left) and heat probe (right) deployed. In fact, these satellites transmitted InSight's first look at its surroundings nearly immediately after the probe safely landed. "But they're low-priced ride-alongs that can allow us to explore in new ways", John Baker, JPL's program manager for small spacecraft said in the statement. This image was taken at about 12:10 p.m. PST (3:10 p.m. EST) while MarCO-B was flying away from the planet after InSight landed. They'll never replace the more capable spacecraft NASA is best known for developing. "During that short span of time, InSight had to autonomously perform dozens of operations and do them flawlessly - and by all indications that is exactly what our spacecraft did".
Nasa is the only space agency to have made it, and is invested in these robotic missions as a way to prepare for the first Mars-bound human explorers in the 2030s.
"MarCO is mostly made up of early-career engineers and, for many, MarCO is their first experience out of college on a NASA mission", said Joel Krajewski of JPL, MarCO's project manager.
Future deep space missions are now expected to increasingly adopt this technology.