NASA’s InSight, a spacecraft that will conduct seismic and geophysical research on Mars, successfully landed on the surface of the Red Planet on Monday. InSight left Earth in May, taking off on an Atlas V rocket launched from an Air Force base in California.
The craft is operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and will, according to the agency, “address fundamental questions about the formation of Earth-like planets by detecting the fingerprints of those processes buried deep within the interior of Mars.”
Upon landing safely on the surface of a new and exotic territory, the spacecraft imitated its human creators and immediately fired off a tweet and shared a photo.
InSight’s mission is scheduled to last for about two years, during which it will use its array of instrumentation to measure seismic activity on Mars, track the flow of heat through the planet’s interior, and garner “clues on the size and composition of Mars’ metallic core” by measuring how the “sun pushes and pulls [the North Pole] in its orbit.”
InSight is the eighth NASA craft to land successfully on the surface of Mars. Fewer than half of all Mars missions have been successful.