DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - NASA’s Mars Insight lander touched down on the Red Planet on Monday.
Space enthusiasts at Daytona Beach’s Museum of Arts & Sciences watched the landing live on the big screen in the planetarium.
“It was amazing! It was so great, exciting that it landed successfully, and hoping to see more of this in the future!” said Kara Bethke, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Shortly after landing, the NASA team cheered again when Insight sent back its first photo from the planet's surface.
“Very excited to have this landing opportunity, show it here in the planetarium and see it happen successfully is amazing!” said Seth Mayo, the museum’s astronomy curator.
Insight had a long way to go to get to Mars, falling red-hot through the atmosphere and opening its chute just before reaching the ground.
Finally, Insight used engines to cushion the landing and open its solar panels.
“It's like sending a basketball from LA to NY into a standard-sized hoop that's moving at two meters per second and rotating at the same time,” Mayo said.
Insight will be the first robot to look inside Mars, using its instruments to discover what the planet's core looks like - data that may even give us clues about our own world.
“We already understand the atmosphere of Mars, and the surface geology, but never the interior to discover what it's made out of and ultimately what Earth is made out of and how Earth formed long ago,” Mayo said.
That is something space fans hope will get humans a step closer to the Red Planet.
“It's crazy. It's really exciting because this is something we really haven't known about so it's gonna be really interesting to see what the results are from it,” Bethke said.
The last time NASA landed a robot on Mars was the Curiosity rover in 2011.
Insight will start its experiments over the next three months.