NASA InSight unfolds solar arrays, snaps some pictures on Mars after safety checks

Engineers plan to fold open & use InSight’s five arms to get cracking on some geology experiments.

NASA’s InSight lander touched down safely on Mars after a seven-month-long journey, and sent its mission team an image for confirmation just minutes later.

NASA InSight unfolds solar arrays, snaps some pictures on Mars after safety checks

InSight acquired this dust-laden image of the area in front of the lander using its lander-mounted Instrument Context Camera (ICC) hours after landing. Image courtesy: NASA

Soon after, InSight got to work on some self-imposed health checks before unfolding its robot arm and solar arrays to soak up some sun and charge its batteries.

The lander has also deployed its first sensors from science experiments on Mars: quake-detectors.

InSight took this image using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on the day it landed. All the instruments in the frame are parts of the lander's onboard experiments. Image courtesy: NASA

InSight took this image using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on the day it landed. All the instruments in the frame are parts of the lander's onboard experiments. Image courtesy: NASA

"Slowly releasing all my pent-up tension, starting with loosening my grapple, as these before-and-after pics show," NASA InSight's Twitter account said.

"Until I'm ready to stretch my arm out, my camera angles will be the same."

Engineers are soon planning to use InSight’s five arms to get started on some more of the robot geologist’s experiments.

InSight has two full-colour cameras onboard, that have sent back 3 images already over the 2 days since its successful landing.

NASA is yet to announce that all the other instruments on InSight are in good shape: the CERN-engineered seismometer to seek out Marsquakes small or large, and its sensors to measure escaping heat from Mars’ surface.

A replica of the Mars InSight lander at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Image courtesy: NASA

A replica of the Mars InSight lander at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Image courtesy: NASA

InSight has no instruments or missions to detect life, though. That will be left to future rovers like the Mars 2020, which will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analysed for evidence of ancient life.

The spacecraft was built by NASA to last for a two-year mission on the planet, during which it is expected to learn more than any spacecraft before about Mars' rocky, quake(y) geology.

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