The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newest exploration vehicle InSight landed on Mars on Monday with much social media fanfare on earth.

Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory exploded into celebratory applause and cheers after the touchdown was confirmed. The landing was watched around the world and even broadcast live on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City’s Times Square.

During a post-landing NASA press conference, the astronauts on the International Space Station called down to congratulate the mission team and said they “got some goosebumps” watching the coverage.

“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “InSight will study the interior of Mars and will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars. This accomplishment represents the ingenuity of America and our international partners, and it serves as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of our team. The best of NASA is yet to come, and it is coming soon.”

The team of scientists working on Mars hope to use “marsquakes” to study the Red Planet’s interior.

InSight is the first dedicated to unlocking secrets from deep below the Martian surface. The lander will spend 24 months – about one Martian year – using seismic monitoring and underground drilling to gather clues on how Mars formed and, by extension, the origins of Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system more than 4 billion years ago.

…InSight’s primary instrument is a highly sensitive French-built seismometer, designed to detect the slightest vibrations from “marsquakes” and meteor impacts.

Scientists expect to see a dozen to 100 marsquakes over the course of the mission, producing data to help them deduce the size, density and composition of the planet.

A fascinating aspect of this mission is that its program is based from the studies conducted by the Apollo teams that went to the Moon.

After Neil Armstrong took his famous first steps on July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin hauled two pieces of luggage out of the Eagle and unpacked them on the lunar surface. One contained a seismometer for recording meteorite impacts and moonquakes. The other was a reflector, off which scientists could bounce a laser beam to precisely measure the moon’s distance from Earth and track its movements to learn more about its composition and structure.

A moon landing is now a goal for the Russians, and one Russian joked that they wish to prove that the United States actually landed there.

A proposed Russian mission to the moon will apparently include a task to verify that the American moon landings were actually real, a top Russian space official joked Saturday.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, was responding to a question at an event about whether or not NASA actually landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago when he made the remark, the Associated Press reported.

“We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they’ve been there or not,” Rogozin said in a video posted Saturday on Twitter.

As NASA has recently announced it will be returning to the moon, it looks like another space race is on! I like our chances.

[Featured image via YouTube]

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