Nasa’s InSight takes selfie on Mars after dramatic 7 minute plunge

Nasa's InSight spacecraft touched down on  Mars, one of the most difficult landings in the Solar system. Picture: PA
Nasa's InSight spacecraft touched down on Mars, one of the most difficult landings in the Solar system. Picture: PA
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US space agency Nasa has released the first image of the spacecraft InSight from the surface of Mars, after it successfully reached the planet after almost seven months travelling through space.

The Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed images of the spacecraft from its landing site, known as Elysium Planitia.

Nasa tweeted one photograph showing part of the InSight spacecraft and the Martian surface in the distance, revealing a small rock, one of the probe’s feet and the sky on the horizon.

The spacecraft took the image of itself from the red dusty planet, arguably making it the first selfie on Mars.

The space agency’s £633 million two-year mission aims to shine new light on how the Red Planet was formed and its deep structure, by mapping its core, crust and mantle.

The receiving of the images signals that InSight’s solar panels, known as solar arrays, have now successfully opened, meaning it is able to collect sunlight and recharge its batteries each day.

Tom Hoffman, InSight’s project manager at Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory, said there was a great deal of relief at the outcome.

“The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries,” he said.

“It’s been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase.”

Using InSight’s robotic arm, which has a camera attached, the mission team will be able to take more photographs in the coming days, Nasa has said. This will help engineers to assess where to install the spacecraft’s scientific instruments, which will be able to start sending back data to Earth within two to three months.

The InSight lander touched down just before 8pm GMT on Monday, surviving the so-called “seven minutes of terror” – a tricky landing phase – travelling at 13,200mph through the planet’s atmosphere, with little friction to slow down.