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Flight controllers at the USA space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leaped out of their seats and erupted in screams, applause and laughter as the news came in.

Minutes after landing, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles received a fuzzy "selphie" photograph from the neighbouring planet. NASA TV coverage was also shown on the giant screen in New York's Times Square, where crowds huddled under umbrellas in the rain.

NASA's online live broadcast reported InSight touched down on Mars at approximately 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT), after a six-month, 300-million-mile (480-million-km) journey.

Everyone involved in the $1 billion worldwide mission is understandably nervous.

It will spend the next 24 months - about one Martian year - collecting a wealth of data to unlock mysteries about how Mars formed and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system.

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) is mounted on an arm and can take full-color images of the surrounding landscape.

"I´ve just received confirmation that there are no rocks in front of the lander", he told AFP.

"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 the landing.

Mars once had flowing rivers and lakes, but the deltas and lakebeds are now dry.

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.

Mars_InSight
Sight during landing. Image credit NASA

While Earth's tectonics and other forces have erased most evidence of its early history, much of Mars is believed to have remained largely static, creating a geological time machine for scientists. "It was intense, and you could feel the emotion", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in the NASA landing Livestream about the landing success.

The stationary probe is programmed to pause for 16 minutes for the dust to settle, literally, around its landing site, before disc-shaped solar panels are unfurled like wings to provide power to the spacecraft.

"Touchdown confirmed", a mission control operator at NASA said, as pent-up anxiety and excitement surged through the room, and dozens of scientists leapt from their seats to embrace each other.

A man takes pictures of a model of the CubeSat MarCO which trails the InSight lander on its mission to Mars at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on November 26, 2018.

'The mission will help us to understand how planets form and evolve, ' she added.

Horne said the mission could even bring us one step closer towards answering the question of whether aliens exist somewhere out there in the universe. The self-hammering mole will burrow five metres down to measure the planet's internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.

These instruments include the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures to investigate what causes the seismic waves on Mars the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package to burrow beneath the surface and determine heat flowing out of the planet and the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment to use radios to study the planet's core.

NASA officials say it will take two to three months for the main instruments to be deployed and put into operation.

The two satellites not only transmitted the good news in nearly real time, they also sent back InSight's first snapshot of Mars just 4 minutes after landing.

"It is wonderful news that the InSight spacecraft has landed safely on Mars", said Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency.

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