STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

NASA spacecraft lands on red planet after six-month journey

A NASA spacecraft designed to burrow beneath the surface of Mars landed on the red planet Monday after a six-month, 300 million-mile (482 million-kilometer) journey and a perilous, six-minute descent through the rose-hued atmosphere.

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 3:09 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft designed to burrow beneath the surface of Mars landed on the red planet Monday after a six-month, 300 million-mile (482 million-kilometer) journey and a perilous, six-minute descent through the rose-hued atmosphere.

Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leaped out of their seats and erupted in screams, applause and laughter as the news came in.

"Touchdown confirmed!" a flight controller announced.

The three-legged InSight spacecraft reached the surface after being slowed by a parachute and braking engines, the space agency said. Updates were coming in via radio signals that take more than eight minutes to cross the nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) between Mars and Earth.

It was NASA's ninth attempt to land at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes. All but one of the previous U.S. touchdowns were successful.

NASA last landed on Mars in 2012 with the Curiosity rover.

Viewings were held coast to coast at museums, planetariums and libraries, as well as New York's Times Square.

The plan called for the spacecraft to go from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat as it pierced the Martian atmosphere and settled on the surface.

"Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration," said InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt. "It's such a difficult thing, it's such a dangerous thing that there's always a fairly uncomfortably large chance that something could go wrong."

Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions. Up to now, the success rate at the red planet has been only 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russia and other countries since 1960.

The U.S., however, has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past four decades, not counting InSight, with only one failed touchdown. No other country has managed to set and operate a spacecraft on the dusty red surface.

InSight was shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas with few, if any, rocks.

This is no rock-collecting expedition. Instead, the stationary 800-pound (360-kilogram) lander will use its 6-foot (1.8-meter) robotic arm to place a mechanical mole and seismometer on the ground. The self-hammering mole will burrow 16 feet (5 meters) down to measure the planet's internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.

Nothing like this has been attempted before at our next-door neighbor, nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) away. No lander has dug deeper than several inches, and no seismometer has ever worked on Mars.

By examining the interior of Mars, scientists hope to understand how our solar system's rocky planets formed 4.5 billion years ago and why they turned out so different — Mars cold and dry, Venus and Mercury burning hot, and Earth hospitable to life.

InSight has no life-detecting capability, however. That will be left to future rovers. NASA's Mars 2020 mission, for instance, will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analyzed for evidence of ancient life.

West Lafayette
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Kokomo
Clear
24° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 16°
Rensselaer
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 10°
Fowler
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 10°
Williamsport
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 21°
Crawfordsville
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 26°
Frankfort
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 23°
Delphi
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 12°
Monticello
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 12°
Logansport
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 15°
Mild Conditions Ahead
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 350970

Reported Deaths: 5973
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion47763893
Lake30007480
Allen20256333
Elkhart18510245
St. Joseph18319243
Hamilton14971181
Vanderburgh10862134
Tippecanoe991133
Porter915392
Johnson7484177
Hendricks7143163
Vigo6580105
Monroe591453
Madison5732125
Clark564884
Delaware5434108
LaPorte5171104
Kosciusko501846
Howard400578
Bartholomew367565
Warrick360574
Wayne355192
Floyd348878
Marshall333949
Cass319132
Grant315652
Hancock307762
Noble284750
Boone274656
Henry272141
Dubois262934
Jackson255237
Morgan251845
Dearborn249733
Gibson217033
Shelby212861
Knox207722
DeKalb204438
Clinton202224
Lawrence200549
Wabash190623
Miami188118
Adams187424
Daviess174246
Montgomery167029
Jasper165015
Ripley164521
Fayette163837
Steuben163016
Harrison162024
LaGrange156533
Whitley156516
Huntington147211
White147024
Putnam142530
Wells142533
Decatur141846
Randolph139524
Clay138026
Jefferson137618
Posey133620
Scott124024
Greene117954
Jay113315
Sullivan109018
Jennings102415
Starke100828
Spencer9578
Fulton94219
Fountain9228
Perry88021
Washington8789
Franklin79528
Carroll79313
Orange74428
Vermillion72810
Owen71410
Parke6796
Tipton66527
Blackford62715
Rush6278
Newton62113
Pike57421
Pulaski48020
Benton4423
Brown3995
Martin3896
Crawford3421
Union2972
Switzerland2765
Warren2763
Ohio2477
Unassigned0285

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events