At approximately 1:53 PM Central Time on Monday, November 26, flight controllers and mission operations specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) received word from the pair of experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats about the successful touchdown of the InSight lander on Mars’ Elysium Planitia. The spacecraft’s journey from Earth lasted almost seven months and spanned a distance of roughly 300 million miles.
The mission of InSight (whose name is short for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport”) will last for about two Earth years, or just over one Martian year, and will focus on studying the interior of Mars to learn about how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces (including the Earth and the Moon) formed.
Insight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft, including the cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission. JPL manages the spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. A number of European partners are also supporting the InSight mission.