Two days after landing on Mars, NASA InSight landers were turned on, solar panels worked and sent back selfies.
NASA pulled itwhen the world watched on Monday, but had to wait for hours to find out whether the power system was functioning.
"The InSight team can rest a little easier … we now know that a solar array of spacecraft is deployed and recharges batteries," Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.
But flipping the switch is just the beginning.
The first few things done by the InSight boosters after a hot and terrible six-minute climb through the Martian atmosphere include snappingthen and began to spread solar panels.
Solar arrays will be very important to ensure that InSight can truly carry out its mission to explore the inside of Mars, listen to "Marsquakes" and find out how many meteorites the Red Planet dough.
"With an array that provides the energy we need to start cool science operations, we are on our way to thoroughly investigate what is on Mars for the first time," Hoffman said after landing.
The mission team will now discuss the checklist to ensure landers, on-board robot arms and all scientific instruments are in good health. The dust cover will come out of the two cameras, clearing the scene seen in the first InSight photo and allowing for a detailed survey of red soil to determine the best place to put the instrument.
Next, the robotic arm will position the InSight seismometer, called SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure), and put wind and heat protectors on it. With SEIS in place, it will then become a probe and "mole" that will dig 16 feet (4.9 meters) deep into a planet to measure internal temperature and study Mars guts.
Elizabeth Barrett, who heads the InSight instrument operation, told reporters Monday that the process of arranging instruments in the field alone would take two to three months, followed by one or two months to drill and start getting science data back.
When everything is united, the science part of the mission can begin in March 2019.
"The landing is thrilling, but I'm looking forward to drilling," InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt said in a statement.
After the InSight instrument is set, they can restore data for some time.
"We have had to listen to Marsquakes for at least two years, and we hope for much longer," Tom Pike of Imperial College London, who is part of the team that designed the seismometer, said in a statement.
Banerdt said the broader goal of InSight is to better understand not only Mars, but the Earth and other planets. While evidence from the early years after the formation of the Earth was removed by processes such as weather and plate tectonics, these processes appear to be less active on Mars.
"On Mars, everything is formed [early] "It's still frozen in place," Banerdt said during a press conference on Monday.
Unlike its exploratory cousin, InSight will get stuck in its place, but it becomes very active in shaping our understanding of Mars and the entire universe. Stay here.
Initially published November 26 at 4:15 p.m. PT.
Update, Nov. 27 at 6:56 am PT: Add NASA confirmation that solar panels are open and operating.
Update, November 28, 12:18 noon PT: Add the second quote from Tom Hoffman.
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