NASA's Insight spacecraft touches down on Mars

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The Mars InSight Lander has successfully touched down on the red planet.

NASA says this can not be confirmed until more than five hours after touchdown.

"It was intense and you could feel the emotion", said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, in an interview on NASA television afterward.

Bridenstine also said Vice President Mike Pence called to congratulate the United States space agency for its hard work. In 2008, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory landed the Phoenix spacecraft near Mars' North Pole. France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) made the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, the key element for sensing quakes.

An ecstatic Philippe Laudet, the French Space Agency's project manager, said at JPL that now that the seismometer is on Mars, a "new adventure" is beginning.

Minutes later, JPL controllers received a fuzzy "selfie" photograph of the probe's new surroundings on the Red Planet, showing the edge of one lander leg beside a rock.

More than half of 43 attempts to reach Mars with rovers, orbiters and probes by space agencies from around the world have failed.

The twin "Cubesats" tagging along for the flight to Mars represented the first deep-space use of a miniature satellite technology that space engineers see as a promising low-priced alternative to some larger, more complex vehicles.

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The 880-pound (360 kg) InSight - its name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - marks the 21st US -launched Mars mission, dating back to the Mariner fly-bys of the 1960s.

It is NASA's eighth successful Mars landing since the 1976 Vikings.

"We hit the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 miles per hour, and the whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only 6½ minutes", Hoffman said.

The instrument team will be joined by United Kingdom seismologists from Bristol, led by Dr Nick Teanby, Imperial, led by Professor Gareth Collins, and Oxford led by Dr Neil Bowles, to analyse the data from all of the mission's instruments. Other instruments on board include RISE, a precision radio tracking of the lander that can determine the direction and motion of the rotation of Mars and the HP3 (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe) which will study heat flow by embedding a temperature sensor under the surface of Mars.

While some people were amused by the "hipster hat guy" killing it in style.

Starting in January, the InSight mission will seek to answer critical questions about rocky planet formation in the early days of the solar system. No other country has managed to set and operate even a single spacecraft on the dusty surface. It is not a rover or an orbiter. It will take two to three months for the robotic arm to place the mission's instruments on the surface. "Ultimately, this will contribute to the knowledge of how all rocky planets formed", Katarina Miljkovic, an ARC DECRA Fellow at Curtin University was quoted as saying by Scimex magazine.

NASA's InSight Mars lander captured this view of its surroundings shortly after touching down on the Red Planet on November 26, 2018. This will allow us to better understand how it was formed, and its present condition.

The goal is to map the inside of Mars in three dimensions, "so we understand the inside of Mars as well as we have come to understand the outside of Mars", Banerdt told reporters.

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