20:01 GMT +316 December 2018
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    Touchdown: NASA's InSight Lands on Mars (VIDEO, PHOTO)

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    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported Monday afternoon that its InSight lander successfully landed on Mars following a 7-minute descent to the Red Planet’s surface. It will now proceed to study the planet’s core to understand how Mars formed.

    The lander put down on Elysium Planitia, a vast plain on which it will use a variety of sensitive instruments to discover whether or not Mars' core is molten — like Earth's — or solid. First, however, both the craft and its sensitive cargo of instruments must survive a slowdown from 12,300 mph to 5 mph in only seven minutes.

    "There's a reason engineers call landing on Mars 'seven minutes of terror,'" Rob Grover, InSight's entry, descent and landing (EDL) lead, said Monday, Sputnik reported.

    Touchdown was streamed live by JPL in Pasadena, California, but there's an 8 minute signal delay between Earth and Mars, the next planet outward from the sun. The lander took seven months to get to Mars following its May 2018 launch, but a decade of planning and construction preceded that journey. It was the first time the US space agency tried to land a spacecraft on Mars since 2012, when the Curiosity rover arrived, and its eighth successful overall.

    Moments after landing, the InSight craft sent back its first image from the surface:

    ​"My lens cover isn't off yet," the craft's Twitter account says, "but I just had to show you a first look at my new home."

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    InSight Spacecraft, live, video, astronomy, landing, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mars
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