After several months in space, the NASA insight has successfully landed on Mars, NASA has received the first image taken from the InSight’s dual camera system, showing the surface and horizon of the red planet.
The long-awaited landing came with the usual “seven minutes of terror” while signals from Mars crawled back to Earth at the speed of light. There was nothing to fear this time, though. NASA reports that InSight’s automated landing sequence performed perfectly and the probe is conducting systems checks in preparation for science operations.
Because Mars is further away from the sun than Earth, it gets weaker sunlight, so it’s crucial that InSight’s solar panels generate as much energy as possible. And since InSight will be conducting experiments for a whole Martian year on the Red Planet (which is about two earth years), the probe has a scaled-up solar panel model.
Insight has twin solar arrays, each capable of extending to a width of 2.2 meters. On a clear day, the probe gets about 600 to 700 watts from the panels, and even when dust settles on the panels – which could be a common occurrence on Mars – they can provide up to 200 to 300 watts of power for the probe. This, NASA noted, is “enough to power a household blender and plenty to keep its instruments conducting science on the Red Planet.”