The three-legged lander streaked into the thin Martian atmosphere at 12,300 miles (19,795 km) per hour and plunged 77 miles to the surface within seven minutes, slowed to a gentle touchdown by atmospheric friction, a giant parachute and retro rockets.
USA eastern time. When confirmation of the landing came through, mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab erupted in applause and cheers. The InSight mission, which cost around $814 million, plans to study Mars' deep interior.
Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions.
InSight is only the eighth spacecraft to land on Mars, and the first since 2012.
InSight and MarCO flight controllers will monitor the spacecraft's entry, descent and landing from mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where all landing events will take place.
A quick photo sent from Mars' surface was marred by specks of debris on the camera cover but showed a flat surface with few if any rocks - just what scientists were hoping for. Ultimately, by giving Mars an internal examination we'll be able to compare the Red Planet's composition with Earth's, greatly improving our understanding of how planets in our solar system-and even exoplanets orbiting other stars-actually form.
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An engineer smiles next to an image of Mars sent from the InSight lander shortly after it landed on Mars.
"While most of the country was enjoying Thanksgiving with their family and friends, the InSight team was busy making the final preparations for Monday's landing", said Tom Hoffman of JPL, InSight's project manager. And Tuesday night, the Mars Odyssey orbiter should confirm that the spacecraft's solar arrays have unfurled. By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will address fundamental questions about the formation of Earth-like planets by detecting the fingerprints of those processes buried deep within the interior of Mars, the space agency says.
"Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration", InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt, said before Monday's success. The mission is expected to last about two Earth years.
A second instrument will burrow five metres into the ground of Mars, measuring the planet's temperature, while a third experiment will determine how Mars wobbles on its axis.
InSight will be landing at Elysium Planitia, called "the biggest parking lot on Mars" by astronomers.
The suite of geophysical instruments on InSight sounds like a doctor's bag, giving Mars its first "checkup" since it formed.
'This is a concern that there could be a problem on landing, so I will be excited when I know it's landed safely'.
The NASA Viking probes of the mid-1970s were equipped with seismometers, too, but they were bolted to the top of the landers, a design that proved largely ineffective.