NASA landed a spacecraft on the surface of Mars Monday to study the interior of the red planet.

Ninety million miles away Monday afternoon, history was made with the successful landing of NASA's InSight lander on the Red Planet.

The descent was known as the 'seven minutes of terror.' The Curiosity Rover experienced when it landed six years ago.

InSight entered the Martian atmosphere at more than 12,000 mph before 3 p.m., poised to land in the area known as Elysium Planitia.

Minutes later, the spacecraft's heat shield endured temperatures around 2,700 degrees.

InSight's large parachute deployed to slow it down dramatically, and the radar that senses its distance to the ground was activated.

Seconds later, the descent engines fired, slowing it to an easy 5 mph. Minutes later, the spacecraft sent back a beep, a signal it's alive and well on the surface.

The Mars InSight lander launched from California back in May. Now that it's on Mars, the science begins, with the goal of studying the planet's deep interior for the first time.

InSight will spend more than 700 Earth days studying Mars -- it's mission wraps up in November 2020.


Information released by NASA. See updates on the NASA website.

  • 2:47 p.m. EST: InSight is expected to enter Mars' atmosphere
  • 2:51 p.m. EST: Parachute deploys
  • 2:54 p.m. EST: Expected touchdown on the surface of Mars
  • 3:01 p.m. EST: InSight is expected to send a "beep" to Earth using an X-band radio, indicating InSight is alive and functioning on Mars. 
  • No earlier than 3:04 p.m. EST (but possibly the next day): First image from InSight on Mars

Some last minute tweaks were made to the spacecraft's trajectory over the weekend.

It is never easy landing a spacecraft traveling at high speeds, and enduring thousand degree temperatures. That is why NASA scientists have dubbed it "7 minutes of terror."

Using a heat shield, parachutes and landing legs, InSight is expected to land at 2:54 p.m. EST.

But NASA will not know until it gets a signal from the probe, which is expected to happen at 3:01 p.m. EST.

The lander will emit signals to on Earth, some 91 million miles away, to tell us if it successfully landed.

Once on the Martian surface, InSight will study the red planet, but unlike previous Mars rovers, it will stay in one place. Its job is to tell us more about the interior of Mars.

It will measure the degree to which Mars wobbles as it rotates to unlock secrets about the planet's core.

InSight will dig 16 feet into the ground to measure the temperature of Mars, and it has a seismometer to detect any Mars-quakes.

NASA scientists hopes the information gathered will aid them as they prepare for human journeys to the red planet in the next decade or so.

There will be watch parties being held around the world, including at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach.