Nasa’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander has arrived on Mars, following a seven-month, 458-million-kilometre journey from Earth.

During the two-year mission, InSight will study the deep interior of the red planet, which will help scientists understand how planets with rocky surfaces were formed.

InSight was launched on 5 May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. The lander reached yesterday near Mars’ equator.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “We successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history.

“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.”

The landing signal was transmitted to Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, through one of the agency’s two small experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats.

MarCO CubeSats was launched on the same rocket as InSight and it later followed the lander to Mars.

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“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.”

InSight project manager Tom Hoffman said: “We hit the Martian atmosphere at 12,300mph (19,800km/h), and the whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only 6.5 minutes.

“During that short span of time, InSight had to autonomously perform dozens of operations and do them flawlessly, and by all indications, that is exactly what our spacecraft did.”

InSight’s surface-operations phase commenced just a minute after reaching the planet. One of its first tasks is to deploy its two decagonal solar arrays to generate power.

Within the first week after landing, InSight will collect science data. Two days later, the engineering team on ground will begin to deploy InSight’s 1.8m-long robotic arm so that it can gather images of the surrounding landscape.

InSight principal investigator at JPL Bruce Banerdt said: “Landing was thrilling, but I’m looking forward to the drilling.

“When the first images come down, our engineering and science teams will hit the ground running, beginning to plan where to deploy our science instruments. Within two or three months, the arm will deploy the mission’s main science instruments, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) and Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instruments.”

InSight will operate on the surface for one Martian year and another 40 Martian days until 24 November 2020.