NASA's Mars InSight spacecraft, which successfully landed on the Martian surface last month, has settled nicely on the surface of the planet.
According to NASA, it is sitting in shallow dust, slightly tilted at an angle of about four degrees. The rover has been designed to work normally with an inclination of up to 15 degrees, so InSight's tilt is not a big issue, the space agency has said.
InSight was launched on 5 May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and touched down on the surface of Mars on 26 November after completing a journey of about seven months in space.
According to NASA, InSight touched down on target - lava plain called Elysium Planitia. Since making successful landing, InSight has sent several images and telemetry data to the mission team, suggesting that it is functioning as it was designed to do.
It properly deployed its solar arrays to generate power from the sunlight, and also flipped open the lens cover on its Instrument Context Camera on 30 November to capture some images of the Red Planet.
After analysing the images sent by InSight, NASA has described its landing site as a "large sandbox." The agency says there are only a few rocks present in the area in immediate vicinity of the lander.
"The science team had been hoping to land in a sandy area with few rocks since we chose the landing site, so we couldn't be happier," said InSight project manager Tom Hoffman of JPL.
"There are no landing pads or runways on Mars, so coming down in an area that is basically a large sandbox without any large rocks should make instrument deployment easier and provide a great place for our mole to start burrowing."
NASA is now waiting for higher-resolution images from the machine, which will arrive as soon as the dust covers on InSight's two cameras are released in coming days.
InSight has also set a new record on Mars. On its first full day on the planet, InSight generated 4,588 watts-hours (Wh) of electrical power, more than any other vehicle on Mars. NASA's Curiosity and Phoenix landers have generated maximum 2,806 Wh and about 1,800 Wh of electrical power in a single Martian day (sol), respectively.
"It is great to get our first 'off-world record' on our very first full day on Mars," said Hoffman.
InSight will operate for nearly two Earth years on the surface of Mars. The mission is expected to provide new details about the deep interior of the planet Mars and help scientists learn how all rocky celestial bodies, including Earth and the Moon, were formed in the solar system.
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