NASA's Insight lander successfully touches down on Mars

The lander will now investigate the planet's history by digging beneath its surface.
19:50 | 11/26/18

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Transcript for NASA's Insight lander successfully touches down on Mars
I'm David Curley in Washington good afternoon we are getting ready for a little bit of history a long way away from earth on the planet Mars. NASA preparing to land its latest. Vehicle headed toward Mars it's in its final descent toward the planet and we have coverage for you all afternoon live from NASA at the JPL. And also from the planetarium. In New York to give you a sense of how the world is watching this mission. This is a pro this gonna tell us about what is inside of Mars. And it's going to be a very exciting few minutes as it goes from space through the atmosphere and on to the surface might. Cawley Clayton Sentelle is at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory out in California. Clayton I can tell that the excitement is building out there already. Yet David they have been very very excited in fact when we talked to some of the project managers and some of the project folks they are. Is there almost speechless and in how excited they are but they are also. Pretty nervous because the if you look at the history of Mars exploration especially when it comes to Russia may have not had good luck. In fact oh only about 40% of all missions to Mars. Have actually succeeded the rest have failed but. One just turn here and show you right behind me here is a mock up of the Mars in sight Lander. It's. About the size of a large SUV and took off the real one took off back in May. From Vandenberg Air Force Base here in California. It has now traveled about 300 million miles and if all goes according to plan will touch down here really in the next few minutes and we started to get some updates. From mission control this. Seven minutes of terror that you may have heard about that. Basically this craft. Because of the communication delayed. From Mars to earth. There is no as one road. Scientist put it there is no live joy sticking this mission you can't control it in real time it all has to be automated all has to be on auto pilot and so. That is what's happening now and in just the last few minutes. We have started basically to get into that and seven's the terror the cruise stage has now separated from. The Lander. And and the Lander will then begin this this turned toward that they want to orient it properly so that the heat shield is facing forward. Obviously it is going to be facing some huge remember really really high temperatures almost 3000 degrees which. Can melt steel so they have to orient it properly and then this whole sequence of events is starting to one folds now where. The heat the back of the Lander will separate. The heat shield will lament to separate a parachute will come out retro rockets will fire and it will slow that Lander from a speed of 121000. Miles per hour more than 121000 miles per hour to five miles per hour in just about six and a half seven minutes hence the term seven minutes of terror. I'd actually call it seven minutes black out because they won't know what's going on. It won't be able to transmit plague winner back with you in just the second. So a lot of folks watching around the world as we are here at ABC news. And our Maggie really is a new York at the planetarium where she can tell us what the situation is like. Dave and there are more than a hundred people hearing out New England natural history New York City we're eating. For this landing when I'm not that that this just think people milling about all day you can see from them. You've accomplished all complain here it's packed with people but we're keeping what I have my hope is that many of them. I'm sitting in chairs and David there's so wouldn't tidbits that. I was actually trying to attack among people earlier and the lunch this week he told me this. Paying up to what is happening on that's coming up earlier we heard from the media rights expert. He also hurt visual arts expert and now they're live streaming NASA right behind me here so it's definitely exciting but. Kind of fun of me by how people are so closely paying attention to what's happening against. Thanks Lisa she needed it wanted to focus on what was going on behind him the right now so kind of a waiting game. Everyone has been perhaps my what's happening on the screen waiting to find out. What's going to happen with this Mars Lander and half through David I'm waiting with them for superintendent. It is very exciting magnet meter high for him back to you. We hope to see a picture from the slander if it's successfully lands and is able send back a picture we'll talk about some of the science and what we hope to gain from this probe. In just a little bit but let's listen in to a little bit with this tension that's going on a NASA now as they wait to find out whether this long term project comes out successfully. It deceleration. The next big step is parachute inflation. Concedes that on our timeline on the bottom that's me. The next event is parachute declines since that attack traveling at 1000 meters per second. Very collected right grows to about 400 meters per second it will deploy its twelve meter diameter supersonic parachute. It's the pair Schuessel deployed nominally at about mach one point seven. Getting back her parachute deployed. So you're hearing these steps and it's really exciting what we've seen already happened is that. Basically their vehicle turned so it could come through the atmosphere it has to do that at and main goal. Has claimed was explaining earlier and then the pair that actually slows it down significantly. As it gets into the atmosphere they're very happy to have parachute deployed. And now a two really exciting things played let's talk about this they're gonna jettison the heat shield. And then basically jettison the parachutes in and we get to see some rockets or hear some rock and supposedly. Yeah that's right they have two use explosive charges too basically blow away the heat shield. They'll use charges to get rid of the parachute as well and and the Bledel actually have to maneuver so that it doesn't land on the heat shield and so the pair she doesn't land. On the Lander. So there's a couple of things that'll that'll happen in that process. As the parachute as it is now come out and then we're now hearing that the radar is now activated which is a good sign that means that the Lander. Is now. Sensing its its speed and what is the likely still around and adjusting. Right exactly trying to find the right place to land and we get. Talk of a more about the landing zone and a bit but it wants to be in an area that is free of rocks free of you know. To too steep an incline and so they've worked very hard to try and figure out a very flat very boring place to land that's where they wanna be. Dental we have very good movement so far we've had. The good signs it actually turns itself came through the atmosphere correctly slow itself down the parachutes deployed that we're correctly. The question is there they're excited again was at the heat shield that we just had jettisoned. At the heat shield correction alpha and Michael. Lander separates and so. Well that's really badly and packaging 600 meters. Gravity parent assets very close the loan underwriters. Let's listen into these final semi hundred meters. 200 meters. Eighty meters. Sixty meters. Fifty meters confident ferocity. Thirty centimeters. Thirty meter. Twenty meters. Seventeen meters and a backer touched down. The standing record touchdown. Touchdown could. Tunnels in the inside his car and. And oh yeah yeah. Clayton we're gonna have several minutes now with these successful landing there we can talk a little bit about some of the science here. And what this little vehicles going to do there's actually quite a bit to talk about here I actually have to say before we go on. I love somebody choreographed high fives and elbowing or. That was quite fun with the JPL's engineers. In Pasadena so this. This is fantastic we're glad Abramoff. The ethics for them it is a Super Bowl we have landed this probe on Mars that is a huge feat in itself six months and in off on its space travel. To get there now comes the work of why we sent it there which is to learn more about what's inside Mars explain a little going. Yeah that's right so the hard part is similar they've landed on Mars and now it's time for the science and one of the reasons they want to study Mars you know we've sent missions to Mars before to study. The surface of Mars to city atmosphere but we've never really looked. Inside Mars and one of the reasons scientists want to do this. Is because back four point 54 and a half billion years ago earth and Mars were very similar there. Atmosphere as they both an atmosphere is liquid water they were they were very similar but somewhere along the line. About a billion years in the Mars life it's it changed dramatically and they want to figure out. Why so this is actually the first probe that will look inside the planet and coming actually have a camera zoom in here Lou but you can see. Two of the instruments that are going to be deployed here on the surface of Mars the first on the kind of looks like that attack at all perhaps the gun box that is a size monitor and what they're gonna use that for us. It is to measure Mars quakes oh and and vibrations from things like I'm meteor strikes and that will help paint. A picture of the interior of Mars. Two numbers it did to basically. Tell them how the planet formed and and it's. You know it's almost like that time capsule really because. Mars stops changing. About a billion years into it's life and they want to look back. And see if there are any that's anything they can learn about how. Earth formed back in that time and then also there's another experiment here the heat experiment. That is going to tune. Measured the amount of heat coming out of the core and again all of this is to basically. Paint a picture of the interior of Mars and trying to figure out how Mars is formed how Werth was formed and it's also going to be helpful they tell us in looking for. Habitable planets outside of our solar system as well all of the sciences is building up to that as well. Still celebrating their GPL and also we saw some shots from look like he was New York City maybe Times Square there watching up on the big Good Morning America. A banner wall there in Times Square Maggie released at the planetarium in New York we saw a lot of jumping and screaming their baggage they're very happy. A lot of jumping into really did exactly what everybody wanted to see again. During those seven minutes of terror I was actually shocked to hear a picking dropping here at this place. With absolutely silent you can see there's you know well over a hundred people here but. As we were waiting to find out what happened the woman spoke a word every one. Please just rap and waiting to see. What was going to happen on screen but the second that we did find out at all was OK and Sox everyone high hiding over NASA. Everyone here did this singing thing they were applauding and very excited Selz. Certainly quite a few excited people many of them have been here for over an hour and a friend over here then right. Pain and not come down if you couldn't even fitting for quite some time yet. I'm waiting for at this moment. What is exciting if you thought it was Hollywood's. What do you think when those minutes when we didn't know what was going to happen. Lot of attention you can see in people's pieces on the screen and money I don't know if congress and writing poems I'm advocate groups. You know since I don't know you know. With the success breeds can be intensely watched him. He can't get any one company everyone he ever was so some healing in here when it happened and then. When we saw that it wouldn't send my love that don't move energy yeah yeah. It's wonderful what brought you out here today wiley here so I wanted them anything you want them exit from Canada and so. We're actually in New York just exploring it place him come here for you spent your last day in the United States of America here cheering I asked and you. I will enjoy the rest of the south. We'll get high I like him. But setting a high five back to you as well David I could David parent. Thank you Maggie thank you very much we are seeing right now the first picture. From inside apparently transmitted already back of that on the surface. Of Mars. Saw a round of applause from a lot of folks at JPL's. Looks like a couple the engineers are actually trying to figure out exactly where they landed. Boy claimed that was pretty quick do we got a picture back we are you expecting one for five minutes. And we and we at least hack attacks. Yeah very fast and very exciting. Through these engineers and everybody who's put so much time is this. Yeah and one of the reasons they're giving these images back so quickly is that in addition to incite flying through space it was actually trailed by two. Pretty brand new revolutionary. Pieces of technology called cube satellites cubes that's our Mars co they call them and these satellites. Were able to basically tracked in real time insight as it landed and relay all of that information back. They're also helping relay some of these images we're seeing now so that's why. They're coming back so fast and if you look at that image. It's a fairly plain. Looking landscape and that is by design you know from a geologic standpoint. If you're geologist usually want to go where the action is you wanna go where there are canyons where there are big rocks where there are things to study where water might have flowed. This is the exact opposite they wanted a flat area where they could. Easily do something that they've never done before which is to take that arm on the Lander there. And it will actually in the coming days and weeks. Will pick the experiments up off of the deck there and put them down on the surface so they wanted. As few rocks as possible as few obstacles as possible and the fact. Here JPL they have a spot where. They will very closely study the landing zone they'll get 3-D pictures of the ground they'll look all around with the two cameras that are on board. And they will recreate the landing site here on earth. In order to figure out the best spot to put all of these instruments David. We're getting a better sense of what this image is it may not look like a lot to you but it's great stuff for these engineers. That is our horizon. Of Mars of where they've landed. And then they believe it's and to create some debris that could have gotten on the lands there was still floating. In the thinner atmosphere there and Mars. Before we go in and we're gonna wrap the substance we have now seen the first image. I want to talk just one more second about those cute sets which you just mentioned. Because these are the size of a brief case this is the future of satellites. We're gonna geek out a little bit here Clayton they are just passing by but they're the ones who transmitted this picture. But that's a future of what we're Tennessee with space travel on these small little satellites. They can travel hundreds of thousands of months. That's right they didn't know whether these things were gonna work they do that mission is not dependent on these -- sets they made that very clear. But basically what they got this and this was gravy have they these things work they worked exactly how others they were supposed to. Son out like like you said I think we're gonna be sing a lot more from. All right Andy you've mentioned a lot of the science here in essence. Drill down into the surface of Mars. We want to know the temperature we want to know whether there is. Seismic activity whether there's any rattling shaking earthquakes. And also how thick the crust is and what is inside of Mars I mean. This is the first time we're really gonna get a census right what's in that core of Mars. Right and I'll give you all give you my one mr. wizard moment here with my props. Some one of the things that they're going to be studying and I got two legs one is hard boiled and one is wrong so. One of the other experiments that's on this Lander is they're going to measure. Radio signals from the Lander going back to earth and we'll be able to measure the wobble of Mars now this is paneling and show you here this is. This is a raw egg and see how it spins. And I'm spinning this hard boiled eggs at the same amount of force C a much faster it's been so basically. They are going to see how Mars spins and not will be able to tell them. Whether the core is liquid or solid or some combination thereof but that's not a Canada. I think it's actually you know we think about the rovers that we've seen such spectacular pictures. They picked up samples they tested samples it seems like with each mission. We learn a bit a little bit more about this planet. And its history. A little bit more and even in upcoming missions to Mars 20/20 mission is actually going to be sample return mission so logic send a rover to Mars they'll run around on the surface of a collect samples much like we development. And then eventually those samples will be brought back to earth for study. Pretty fun to be there Clayton today. It you know it is very cool I actually the first landing I covered hair was in 1997. Showing my age for the pathfinder landing. And it's always it's always an exciting time there were probably. Three or 400 invited guests that we're here awhile ago that and so there's a watch party everybody's very excited everybody wants this to succeed. And you have the mood is has been great I mean like a said they were nervous but they were optimistic that they were going to be able to pull it off. And they did. As we should say and we have not mentioned this so far in such a great success half of these missions have failed so another success goes into the column for NASA. Clayton thank you very much for your coverage there at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California I want to thank. Maggie relief for her efforts at the planetarium and let me give you the last words we've gotten from NASA. The they say the vehicle inside is happy it's not complaining so they're not getting any signals that something is wrong with insight as it sits on the surface of Mars. And they called the landing and this whole mission so far. Flawless they said it has been a perfect scenario. Very good news for NASA very good news for space exploration. The probe insight is on the surface of Mars. Ready to start doing a lot of science. Did a curly in Washington we thank you for joining us hope you enjoyed our landing on Mars.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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