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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — History was made Monday as a NASA spacecraft landed on Mars. This had been a long time coming, the mission closely studied by NASA scientists to get this right.
They’re not so much interested in the surface of the red planets as they are the interior — what lies below the surface of Mars.
Eyewitness News was at the Franklin Institute for touchdown.
Some cheers, lots of excitement and intense curiosity among staff members and scientists at NASA.
It landed about five minutes to 3 p.m. InSight, as the space-exploring Mars-inhabiting vessel is called, landed on a flat, smooth plain known as Elysium Planitia.
It was chosen not so much for surface features, but for safety concerns. InSight will take 360 degree panoramic images and beam them back to Earth. This is not as exciting, some would argue, as a lunar landing, but it’s up there.
“This lander has two instruments specifically designed to study underneath the surface,” the Franklin Institute’s Kaitlin Schmidt said. “First is a heat probe, which is colloquially known as “the mole,” which will dig 16-feet below the surface, measure how temperature changes as you go down.”
“The second is a seismograph, which will measure the plate tectonics of the planet, which are being called “Marsquakes.”
The spacecraft completed a six-month, 300-million mile journey and it’s already sent back a picture of the red planet. It was NASA’s eighth successful Mars landing.