Mars InSight Lander Seen in First Images from Space

©NASA

Mars InSight Lander

On Nov. 26, NASA's InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars.

Now, the team has pinpointed InSight's exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The InSight lander, its heat shield and parachute were spotted by HiRISE (which stands for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) in one set of images last week on Dec. 6, and again on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The lander, heat shield and parachute are within 1,000 feet (several hundred meters) of one another on Elysium Planitia, the flat lava plain selected as InSight's landing location.

In images released today, the three new features on the Martian landscape appear teal. That's not their actual color: Light reflected off their surfaces causes the color to be saturated. The ground around the lander appears dark, having been blasted by its retrorockets during descent. Look carefully for a butterfly shape, and you can make out the lander's solar panels on either side.

This isn't the first time HiRISE has photographed a Mars lander. InSight is based largely on 2008's Phoenix spacecraft, which the camera aboard MRO captured on the surface of Mars as well as descending on its parachute. While the HiRISE team at the University of Arizona also tried to take an image of InSight during landing, MRO was at a much less opportune angle and wasn't able to take a good picture.

More imagery https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2018-288

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