Monday was a day of excitement for people of all ages. Kids and adults across the Central Coast packed into viewing parties to watch the InSight spacecraft land on Mars.
“Going back in time when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, I was watching it on television in Beirut, Lebanon. It was fascinating then, this is fascinating now. The technology is overwhelming,” said watch party visitor, Kenneth Wolf.
The InSight lander is a technical marvel for NASA and the several other teams that worked on this project. With this spacecraft, scientists will be able to learn things about Mars and Earth that haven’t been seen before.
“This is going to be the first probe to go to Mars to study the interior of Mars,” explained Brian Day, lead researcher for the Planetary Mapping and Analysis at NASA Solar System Research Institute.
Once InSight made it into Mars’ atmosphere, many were holding their breath to see what would happen next as the track record for Mars landings isn’t on our side. Researchers say the success rate is less than 50 percent.
“You could definitely feel the tension here as well as Mission Control, so yeah that was really exciting to see,” said watch party attendee Christina Gordillo.
Years of work and research all culminated to InSight landing safely on Mars.
The lander will now begin studying Mars in three different ways: the way it wobbles, the heat of the interior and adding a seismometer to the surface.
“The story isn’t done today, it really begins today. This is the exciting part, this is the exciting time, but InSight is on the ground – it’s at Mars and it’s ready to start doing the job it was designed to do,” Day said.
So what can we expect in the next few weeks? There are several housekeeping procedures InSight has to do like deploying solar panels and eventually the deployment of its experiments before we can start getting results back.
Melissa Newman is a multi-media journalist for KSBY News. You can send her story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.