NASA’s InSight spacecraft has officially landed on the Mars as of Monday night. After touching down on the surface of the Red Planet, the little robot did something that might surprise you; it took a selfie to send back home. NASA tweeted the selfie with information about the landing, and their latest attempt to investigate the dry and barren land, a few hours later.
• The first image sent home to our beautiful blue planet didn’t pan out. InSight was low on battery charge, and so it came out extremely blurry and difficult to see. To correct the issue, it stretched its solar panels out and had a short… well, let’s call it a siesta.
• After recharging, Insight sent a second picture with much better quality. The tiny little robot sits in the middle of the photo, pointing the camera at itself against the barren and still backdrop. “There’s a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home,” explained the caption.
• Just a few minutes later, NASA said that, “Our Mars Odyssey orbiter phoned home, relaying news from @NASAInSight indicating its solar panels are open & collecting sunlight on the Martian surface.”
• Jet Propulsion Laboratory manager, Tom Hoffman, who has worked the project for some time, shared his joy and excitement. “The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries.”
• Like a tourist, InSight will roam the new environment and attempt to pick up clues about the planet’s surface. It is equipped with tools and instruments to help it interpret the environment – a camera, an adjustable arm, a grapple and several specialty tools for analyzing soil or rocks.
• At least for the moment, InSight seems to be doing just fine. Its greatest challenge won’t be recharging batteries alone; instead, it must outlast the harsh Martian environment. Mars falls victim to some of the largest storms in the solar system regularly. Even with the most robust construction methods, a robot like this can only withstand so much.
In the coming days and weeks, InSight will place down each of its instruments and begin to analyze the surface of the Red Planet. What it will discover is anyone’s guess; this robot is significantly more advanced than the last Mars Rover ever was.