After piggybacking on the Atlas V rocket for 300,000 miles across space, NASA’s Insight lander has successfully descended onto Mars’ surface, Peraton said Monday. Insight settled onto the plains of Mars’ Elysium Planitia at 12 p.m. PST on Nov 26th.
Following months of rigorous preparation, the 75-person team at Peraton worked closely with NASA’s Deep Space Network to send the probe into Mars’ atmosphere. It took seven minutes for InSight to penetrate through the atmosphere at 12,000 miles per hour. Despite the risk of failure, InSight landed on the surface with minimal help from mission control.
During the landing sequence, a complex communications relay delivered data to MarCO A and MarCO B, the first-ever cube satellites to launch into deep space. ExecutiveGov reported Tuesday that the twin CubeSats will continue to transmit data back to mission control for at least two weeks.
Now that InSight has landed on Mars, the probe will drill into the planet’s interior for 728 days to collect data and study seismic activity below the surface. In addition to gathering data, InSight aims to uncover potential evidence of previous Martian life and explore the possibility of humans habitation. According to Peraton, Mars could be the second most habitable planet for humans.
“This mission is particularly exciting. Not only do we have the privilege of working with JPL [NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory], the only organization with the distinction of successfully landing on Mars, we enable the technology that propels dynamic scientific advancements,” commented Sonny Giroux, Peraton’s program manager.
Previously, GovConWire reported on Nov. 16th that Peraton extended its contract under a one-year $243M award, to continue providing telemetry, tracking and command services for NASA’s Space Communications Network Services.