Space

Mars orbiter spies InSight lander from space for the first time

Mars orbiter spies InSight lan...
Image of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars
Image of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars
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Composite image showing (from left to right) the InSight spacecraft's parachute, the lander itself and the heat shield on the surface of Mars
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Composite image showing (from left to right) the InSight spacecraft's parachute, the lander itself and the heat shield on the surface of Mars
Image of InSight's heat shield on the surface of Mars
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Image of InSight's heat shield on the surface of Mars
Image of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars
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Image of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars
Image of InSight's parachute on the surface of Mars
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Image of InSight's parachute on the surface of Mars
An annotated image of Mars denoting the landing sites of InSight components  
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An annotated image of Mars denoting the landing sites of InSight components  
Annotated image showing InSight's final landing site
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Annotated image showing InSight's final landing site

NASA's InSight lander may have touched down on the surface of Mars, snapped a couple of selfies and broken a power record, but there remains plenty to learn about the interplanetary robot's immediate surroundings. Mission scientists have gained another fresh perspective on the lander's new home, courtesy of intriguing aerial images snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

It didn't take too long after its November 26 touchdown for a couple of self portraits and telemetry data to confirm the InSight lander was in full working order. Its landing site was soon described as a "large sandbox" by NASA, and offered the spacecraft the room it needed to unfurl its solar array and set a new record for power generation on the Red Planet.

InSight, as seen from the Martian skies in pictures captured by the MRO's HiRISE camera on December 6 and 11, presents as a bright teal marking on Elysium Planitia, the 81-mile-long (130-km) lava plain chosen as its landing site.

Composite image showing (from left to right) the InSight spacecraft's parachute, the lander itself and the heat shield on the surface of Mars
Composite image showing (from left to right) the InSight spacecraft's parachute, the lander itself and the heat shield on the surface of Mars

This neon appearance is the result of light reflecting off the surface of the lander, and the same goes for its heat shield and parachute, which are both located within 1,000 ft ( around 300 m) of it. A closer inspection of the lander reveals darker, scorched surroundings, the marks of the retrorocket blasts that slowed it down during its descent.

These images, along with those captured by the lander itself, offer interesting perspectives on the Red Planet, but they also serve an important scientific purpose. InSight is currently scouting its surroundings for the ideal place to carry out its primary mission, to drill down to around 16 ft (5 m) below the surface to better understand Mars' geology. The more scientists know about its environment, the better informed they will be when deciding the best place to start digging.

Source: NASA

3 comments
guzmanchinky
"Everyone knows this is all fake, just like the moon landings." Hard to believe there are people out there that actually think that way... The science involved in landing something on another world still blows me away. Someday it will be as common as flying in an airliner. If we survive that long...
Colt12
Kind of looks like it made a crater and is setting in it.
Leonard Foster Jr
We can read an iwatch from space with a thick atmosphere on earth yet all we get from other worlds with little or no atmospheres is Blurs and those cams are advanced ???