Celebrating InSight's Successful Mars Landing
Night Sky Network members celebrate InSight's safe landing alongside astronaut Mike Massimino on the floor of the NASDAQ. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
NASA's latest mission to Mars, Interior ExploratioN using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) successfully landed on Mars on November 26, 2018. Some of the Night Sky Network's most active local members from the Amateur Observers' Society of NY and the Amateur Astronomers Association of NY were on hand at Times Square to witness the event. Live coverage of the landing was shown on the seven-story TV screen wrapped around the NASQAD building in Times Square. After a successful landing, they joined astronaut Mike Massimino on the NASDAQ floor to ring the closing bell. Although a rainy day in NYC,  spirits were high as they celebrated achieving this difficult feat alongside other NASA representatives and enthusiasts. 
Mission Control shown on the side of the NASDAQ building TV
Mission Control on the side of the NASDAQ building. Photo credit: Linda Prince

InSight's descent through the Martian atmosphere took just six minutes after a cruise period of almost seven months from Earth. InSight initially deployed a tough parachute, followed by a dozen retrorockets, before finally landing with its three shock-absorbing legs onto "the biggest parking lot on Mars": Elysium Planitia. The enormous Martian plain was chosen due to its flat and smooth terrain - as its nickname by the mission engineers implies - to ensure as safe landing for the probe as possible.
Night Sky Network members behind the podium at the NASDAQ floor
Night Sky Network club members and NASA Solar System Ambassadors at NASDAQ! 

InSight will deploy its instruments to the dusty Martian surface via a mechanical claw arm over the course of the next several months. After its seismometer is safely deployed and its temperature probe is hammered fifteen feet into the Martian soil and rock, InSight will begin its study of the interior of Mars. How seismically active is Mars? What is the temperature deep inside of Mars?  What is the structure of Mars' core? Just how big is the core, and how stable? The answers to these questions will help scientists' better understand not just the history of Mars, but all the inner rocky planets of our solar system, including our own Earth. 
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 Night Sky Network members joined mission scientist Sharon Kedar for a very informative webinar about the InSight mission in March of this year. He lead curious NSN members along a deep dive into the history and science of the mission. You can watch the archived webinar and find links to related mission resources here

The news from inSight has only just begun! You can keep up with the latest from the NASA InSight Mission via their official Facebook page and Twitter feed and receive updates as  they uncover some of the deepest mysteries of Mars.

Last Updated: November 27, 2018

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