Last month, NASA’s InSight successfully landed on Mars, marking another milestone for the United States’ space research agency. The robotic lander, which was launched in May this year aboard an Atlas V-401 rocket, traveled a distance of 300 million miles (around 483 million kms) during its journey, ultimately landing at Elysium Planitia on the Red Planet.
Now, the robotic lander has beamed its first ‘selfie’ back home to planet Earth, much to the delight of its mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and every space nerd in the world.
The selfie, captured by a camera mounted on the robotic arm of InSight (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), is a composite image made by stitching 11 images. It gives a detailed look at the lander’s solar panels, as well as all the advanced surface mapping and analysis instruments it has onboard.
In addition, InSight also sent back the first picture of its ‘workspace’. It’s essentially a 14×7 feet area in front of the lander where the spacecraft will eventually set up its scientific instruments. This image is also a mosaic, made up of 52 individual images sent by InSight.
“The near-absence of rocks, hills and holes means it’ll be extremely safe for our instruments. This might seem like a pretty plain piece of ground if it weren’t on Mars, but we’re glad to see that,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s Principal Investigator was quoted as saying in a news release by NASA JPL.
Watch: Mars Season 2
The primary mission objective of InSight is to place a seismometer (called Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure), on the surface of Mars to measure seismic activity and provide accurate 3D models of Mars’ interior; and measure internal heat flow using a heat probe to study the Red Planet’s early geological evolution.