NASA has located its newly launched InSight lander, using a powerful camera onboard another of the agency’s spacecraft, hovering around the Red Planet. The HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spotted Martian landscape and ground around the lander on Thursday, NASA said in a statement.
ðŸ‘‹ We see you @NASAInSight! That little spacecraft on the Red Planet's surface is our Mars lander in its new home. It was spotted by our Mars Reconaissance Orbiter's @HiRISE camera and appears teal from reflected light. More photos: https://t.co/JtCsn3dHED pic.twitter.com/TUmBxhF1VC— NASA (@NASA) December 13, 2018
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"It looks like the heat shield (upper right) has its dark outside facing down, since it is so bright (saturated, probably a specular reflection)," HiRISE principal investigator Alfred McEwen, of the University of Arizona, wrote in an image description.
"HiRISE also spotted the lander’s heat shield and parachute, on December 6 and again on December 11. They are within 1,000 feet (several hundred meters) of one another on Elysium Planitia, the flat lava plain selected as InSight’s landing location," NASA said.
The lander also sent another set of mosaic composed of 52 individual photos, showcasing the “workspace” — the approximately 14-by-7-foot (4-by-2-metre) crescent of terrain directly in front of the spacecraft, NASA noted.
Earlier, InSight snapped the image of the deserted land. The photo was captured by InSight’s Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), which is found on the lander’s robotic arm. In the background Elysium Planitia, a large plain could be located at the planet’s equator.
InSight, the first mission to study the deep interior of Mars, blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California on May 5, 2018. Unlike the Curiosity rover, Insight won’t be able to move about on Mars. But using a suite of instruments and a seven-foot-long robotic arm, it will drill up to 16 feet below the surface at its landing site, Elysium Planitia, a broad plain that has been called “the biggest parking lot on Mars."