The US space agency Nasa has landed a new robot on Mars after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface of the Red Planet.
The InSight probe aims to study the world’s deep interior, and make it the only planet – apart from Earth – that has been examined in this way.
Confirmation of touchdown came through on cue at 19:53 GMT.
It ended an anxious wait in which the robot radioed home a series of updates on its descent.
Nasa’s mission control at California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) erupted into cheers when it became clear InSight was safe on the ground.
The agency’s chief administrator, James Bridenstine, celebrated what he called “an amazing day”. President Trump had rung to offer his congratulations, he told reporters. And the director of JPL, Mike Watkins, said the success should remind everyone that “to do science we have to be bold and we have to be explorers.”
InSight is now sitting on a vast, flat plain known as Elysium Planitia, close to the Red Planet’s equator. Before landing, Nasa had dubbed it the “biggest parking lot on Mars”.
The first picture of this landscape came back very quickly, within minutes. It showed a smudged, fisheye view of the robot’s surroundings.
The image was taken through the translucent lens cap of a camera positioned on the underside of the lander. The dust kicked up in the descent obscured much of the scene, but it was still possible to make out a small rock, one of the probe’s feet and the sky on the horizon.
A later picture captured by a camera on InSight’s topside was much clearer.
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