NASA., InSight Lander, InSight Lander on Mars
Image Source: JPL - NASA

NASA’s insight spacecraft is parked on Mars and is all set to spend the next two years probing the interior of the Red Planet.

The 800-pound lander stretches its six-foot-long arm and used its camera to click the first likely to be a series of self-portraits. The photo was a mosaic joint together from 11 different images, seen by InSight’s solar panels and it’s deck loaded with science instruments.

The photo also has the dusky red soil of the craft’s new home, a broad plain near the Mars equator called Elysium Planitia.

NASA, InSight Lander, InSight Lander on Mars
Image Source: Vox

InSight also clicked 52 photos of its immediate environment, which were used to make a mosaic of a 4X7-foot area of the surface directly from the lander. The area is totally barren but on the other hand, it has pockmarks in places.

InSight isn’t just like Curiosity and other NASA rovers that are on Mars. The lander is stuck on Elysium Planitia, which was so flat that scientists started calling it The biggest parking lot on Mars.

“The near absence of rocks, hills, and holes concludes that it’s totally safe for the instruments,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a written statement. “This might seem like a pretty plain piece of ground if it weren’t on Mars, but we’re glad to see that.”

InSight is around 340 miles from Curiosity, which has stopped to take pictures of its own as it moves slowly along the Mars surface. Curiosity set its foot on Mars in August 2012 and has been discovering a site called Gale Crater from the starting.

The InSight which is $800 million mission is going t5o measure the magnitude and frequency of marsquakes and study how heat from the deep inside the Red Planet makes its way to the surface.

Since InSight has touched down on November 26, NASA engineers are powering up and testing each instrument in anticipation of their placement directly on the surface. It is expected that it may take two to three months.

Tags: , ,