NASA spacecraft successfully touches down on Mars

Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO)

NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Lands Successfully On Mars After 300-Million-Mile Journey

"Its new home is Elysium Planitia, a still, flat region where it's set to study seismic waves and heat deep below the surface of the Red Planet for a planned two-year mission".

Minutes later, JPL controllers received a fuzzy "selfie" photograph of the probe's new surroundings on the Red Planet, showing the edge of one lander leg beside a rock.

"It's the second probe to land on Mars, the first was in 2008, and that was to investigate the habitability and any history of water on Mars".

The landing capped a six-month journey of 548 million kilometres from Earth, following its launch from California in May.

The spacecraft was launched from California in May on its almost $1 billion mission.

InSight will spend 24 months - about 1 Martian year - collecting a wealth of data to unlock mysteries about how Mars formed and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system.

Artist's impression of InSight on Mars. This was the area in front of the lander.

Bruce Banerdt of JPL, InSight's principal investigator, said "It's taken more than a decade to bring InSight from a concept to a spacecraft approaching Mars - and even longer since I was first inspired to try to undertake this kind of mission".

"Ultimately, the day is coming when we land humans on Mars", Bridenstine said, adding that the goal is to do so by the mid 2030s.

"Landing on Mars is hard and takes a lot of personal sacrifices, such as missing the traditional Thanksgiving, but making InSight successful is well worth the extraordinary effort".

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It's understood the touchdown took just six-and-a-half minutes.

Later Monday, mission scientists should be able to confirm that the spacecraft's solar arrays have unfurled.

Only about 40 percent of the missions ever sent to Mars have ever been successful.

Almost two dozen other Mars missions have been sent from other nations.

NASA's InSight probe landed on Mars a few hours ago after a rigorous voyage through space of almost seven months.

InSight's primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, created to record the slightest vibrations from "quakes" and meteor impacts around the planet.

While the United States space agency tweeted pictures and videos of excited scientists breaking up in applause and loud cheers, Twitter users were particularly amused by the "silly high-five/dance" of two excited team members as soon as the rover touched base. The UK scientists and engineers involved in this mission have committed several years of their lives to building the seismometer on board, and the descent is always a worrying time. But InSight is expected to yield the first meaningful data on planetary seismic tremors beyond Earth.

The spacecraft will also use radio equipment to try and determine the size of the planet's core and whether it's made of liquid or solid. "Within two or three months, the arm will deploy the mission's main science instruments, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) and Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instruments".

The first photo sent back to Earth after the InSight lander touched down on Mars on Monday: a view of a flat, smooth expanse on the Red Planet called Elysium Planitia.

The twin "Cubesats" tagging along for the flight to Mars represented the first deep-space use of a miniature satellite technology that space engineers see as a promising low-priced alternative to some larger, more complex vehicles.

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