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NASA's Mars science lander InSight touched down safely on the surface of the Red Planet on Monday to begin its two-year mission as the first spacecraft created to explore the deep interior of another world.

A NASA spacecraft has landed on Mars to explore the planet's interior.

"Touchdown confirmed", mission commentator Christine Szalai announced at 11:54 a.m. PST.

The probe, which took a six-month journey beginning with a California launch, has delivered three new instruments to the surface of Mars.

A photograph that was sent 91 million miles across the universe heralded a significant triumph for Nasa last night as its $1 billion InSight lander touched down safely on Mars. On Sunday afternoon, they gave the spacecraft one final nudge.

NASA erupted into applause as they celebrated their spacecraft landing on Mars.

Squeee, first photo from InSight!

"There's a quiet beauty here", the InSight mission team wrote on Twitter.

In this room, engineers have seen the delicate dance of entry, descent and landing go flawlessly - and fatally - on previous missions.

"We'll be able to track the location of InSight to an accuracy of about 10 inches", says Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator. "To look deep into Mars, the lander must be at a place where it can stay still and quiet for its entire mission". Radio signals confirming the landing took more than eight minutes to cross the almost 160 million kilometres between Mars and Earth. Still, the team members - all clad in burgundy shirts emblazoned with the InSight logo - watched with rapt attention.

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It had entered the atmosphere faster than a high-velocity bullet, using the combination of a heatshield, parachute and rockets to bring itself to a gentle stop. While surveying the landing site during the planning phase of InSight's mission, scientists studied the ejecta from small impact craters scattered across Elysium Planitia. "The success of these two unique missions is a tribute to the hundreds of talented engineers and scientists who put their genius and labor into making this a great day".

InSight sent its first picture from Mars surface soon after.

Mission control erupted into cheers as Insight hit the Elysium Planitia, and NASA cameras captured two scientists doing a truly wonderful celebration handshake that rivals anything in the National Basketball Association.

"This never gets old", Manning said. Better photos are expected in the days ahead, after the dust covers come off.

It's aiming for flat red plains, hopefully low on rocks.

One thing in particular caught his attention: the microphones being used by NASA employees during the procedure were what he called "super scuffed".

When engineers have ironed out all the kinks, InSight will wake up.

These instruments include the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures to investigate what causes the seismic waves on Mars the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package to burrow beneath the surface and determine heat flowing out of the planet and the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment to use radios to study the planet's core.

The MarCO-A cubesat also indirectly performed science during the flyby as its radio signals were occluded by the planet as it passed behind Mars.


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