PASADENA Cheers erupted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, on Monday, as waist-height unmanned landers, called InSight, landed on Mars, closing nearly seven years of travel from design to launch to landings.
The dramatic arrival of a US $ 993 million spacecraft (S $ 1.36b) – designed to listen to earthquakes and vibrations as a way to uncover the inner mysteries of the Red Planet, how it formed billions of years ago and, by extension, how other rocky planets such as Earth formed the eighth successful landing on Mars in the history of Nasa.
"Touchdown is confirmed," said the mission control operator at NASA, as dozens of scientists jumped from their seats to hug each other.
"It's intense and you can feel that emotion," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Mr Bridenstine also said President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had been called on to congratulate the US space agency for its hard work.
"In the end, the day will come when we land humans on Mars," said Mr. Bridenstine.
The vehicle appeared to be in good condition, according to the first communication received from the surface of Mars.
But the dust kicked during the landing obscured the first image sent back by InSight.
In the last stage, Nasa said that InSight signaled to Earth that its 2.2 million solar panel had been opened and collected sunlight.
The spacecraft is the first Nasa to land on Mars since the Curiosity rover arrived in 2012.
More than half of 43 attempts to reach Mars with explorers, orbits and probes by space agencies from around the world have failed.
Nasa is the only space agency that has made it, and invested in this robotic mission to prepare the first Martian human explorers in the 2030s.
By listening to tremors on Mars, whether from earthquakes, meteor impacts, or volcanic activity, scientists can learn more about the interior.
The aim is to map the inside of Mars in three dimensions. – AFP