NASA's InSight spacecraft, the first robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of the red planet, touched down safely on the surface of Mars on Monday, loaded with instruments to detect planetary seismic rumblings never measured anywhere but Earth.
Launched on May 5, 2018, the announcement of the successful touch down on the red planet triggered celebrations across the world as the InSight team back on earth finally breathed a sigh of relief.
Cameras were rolling to capture reactions in the NASA control room when two members of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory broke into an elaborate yet fascinating multi-step handshake that could put any sports celebration to shame.
"Our @NASAInSight spacecraft stuck the #MarsLanding! Its new home is Elysium Planitia, a still, flat region where it’s set to study seismic waves and heat deep below the surface of the Red Planet for a planned two-year mission."
Our @NASAInSight spacecraft stuck the #MarsLanding!Its new home is Elysium Planitia, a still, flat region where it’s set to study seismic waves and heat deep below the surface of the Red Planet for a planned two-year mission. Learn more: https://t.co/fIPATUugFo pic.twitter.com/j0hXTjhV6I— NASA (@NASA) November 26, 2018
The victory handshake soon went viral on Twitter, as many believed it was literally out of this world.
Best and most meaningful touchdown celebration of the year !! Congratulations @NASAInSight @NASA @LockheedMartin @ulalaunch awesome team accomplishment 🚀👏🏽👍🏽🙏🏽💙👆🏽 #MarsLanding pic.twitter.com/tw1LNApCAB— Rami Intriago (@rambo4Him) November 26, 2018
put the NASA celebration handshake in fortnite you cowards— The World Ends With Yeet (@literally_dirt) November 26, 2018
TOUCHDOWN CONFIRMED! Here is the countdown from inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion! 👏👏👏 @NASAJPL @NASAInSight @NASA @MayorOfLA pic.twitter.com/oczz8PZwhH— CA Science Center (@casciencecenter) November 26, 2018
As a journalist it's my duty to ask how long that NASA handshake was practiced. Also why was there a single guy wearing a hat, a fedora no less. #MarsLanding— Keaton (@ChirpinParaKeat) November 26, 2018
Thank you so much to my incredible team who got me safely to #Mars. Hear from some of them on how my #MarsLanding went. Tune in at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET): https://t.co/oig27aMjZd pic.twitter.com/xbS9W4YFUI— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 26, 2018
It wasn't just the handshake; the first photo snapped by NASA InSight drew plenty of attention on the Internet, despite being blurry and hazy.
📸 Wish you were here! @NASAInSight sent home its first photo after #MarsLanding:InSight’s view is a flat, smooth expanse called Elysium Planitia, but its workspace is below the surface, where it will study Mars’ deep interior. pic.twitter.com/3EU70jXQJw— NASA (@NASA) November 26, 2018
We spent $2.1 billion for a grainy instagram photo?!?— Mark the UX Guy (@MarkKtheUXGuy) November 26, 2018
NASA InSight explained the reason behind the grainy photograph, attributing it to Martian dust.
"My first picture on #Mars! My lens cover isn’t off yet, but I just had to show you a first look at my new home."
My first picture on #Mars! My lens cover isn’t off yet, but I just had to show you a first look at my new home. More status updates:https://t.co/tYcLE3tkkS #MarsLanding pic.twitter.com/G15bJjMYxa— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) November 26, 2018
The spacecraft was launched from California in May, with a mission cost of close to $1 billion. It will spend the next 24 months - about one Martian year - collecting a wealth of data to unlock mysteries about how Mars was formed and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system.
A life-size model of the spaceship Insight, NASA's first robotic lander
InSight was the eighth spacecraft to have landed successfully on Mars, all of which have been operated by NASA.
The three-legged lander streaked into the thin Martian atmosphere at 12,300 miles (19,795 km) per hour and plunged 77 miles to the surface within seven minutes, before it slowed to a gentle touchdown thanks to atmospheric friction, a giant parachute and retro rockets.
(With Reuters inputs)