Two days after landing on Mars, the NASA InSight LG is powered up, its solar panels are working and it is already sending out selfies.
NASA has withdrawnThe world looked on Monday, but had to wait for hours to find out if its electrical system was working.
"The InSight team can rest a bit more easily … now that we know that the spacecraft's solar panels are deployed and are recharging the batteries," said Tom Hoffman, InSight's project manager at Propulsion's laboratory. NASA, in a statement.
But operating the switch is only the beginning.
The first things the InSight lander did after his hot and painful six-minute descent through the Martian atmosphere included:then and begins to deploy its solar panels.
The solar panels will be essential for InSight to carry out its mission of exploring the interior of Mars, to listen to "Marsquakes" and to determine the number of meteors flying the red planet .
"With the dies providing the energy we need to start cold science operations, we are well on the way to thoroughly studying what's inside Mars for the very first time "said Hoffman following the landing.
Mission teams will now review a checklist to ensure the LG, its robotic arm and all scientific instruments are in good health. The dust covers stand out from its two cameras, brightening the jerky view of the first InSight photo and allowing for a detailed study of this red background to determine the best place to install the instruments.
Then, the robotic arm will position the InSight seismometer, called SEIS (Seismic Experience for the Inside Structure), and place a wind and heat shield there. With SEIS in place, the probes and the "mole" will dive into the planet up to 4.9 meters deep in order to measure the internal temperature and study the bowels of Mars.
Elizabeth Barrett, who heads InSight's instrument operations, told reporters Monday that the process of installing the instruments on the floor would take two to three months, followed by an extra month or two to drill and start recovering scientific data.
When everything is together, the scientific part of the mission could begin in March 2019.
"Landing was exciting, but I am looking forward to participating in the drilling," said InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt in a statement.
Once the InSight instruments are configured, they can return data for a period of time.
"We should listen to Marsquakes for at least two years and hope for much longer," said Tom Pike of Imperial College London, a member of the seismometer design team, in a statement.
According to Banerdt, the more general purpose of InSight is to better understand not only Mars, but also the Earth and other planets. Although meteorological processes and plate tectonics have erased the evidence from the early years after the formation of the Earth, these processes seem to be less active than on Mars.
"On Mars, all these things that have formed [early] are still frozen on the spot, "Banerdt said at Monday's press conference.
Unlike his mobile cousins, InSight will be stuck on the spot, but he remains very active in defining our understanding of Mars and the rest of the universe. Stay tuned.
Originally published on November 26 at 16:15. PT.
Updated November 27 at 6:56 am (Pacific Time): Added confirmation from NASA that solar panels are open and operational.
Updated November 28 at 12:18 PM PT: Add a second quote from Tom Hoffman.
NASA is 60 years old: the space agency has pushed humanity further than anyone and plans to go further.
CNET's Holiday Gift Guide: The place to find the best tech gifts for 2018.