NASA’s spacecraft successfully lands on Mars and sends back a picture of itself

The spacecraft took the snap of the Red planet using a camera fixed on its robotic arm.

The rocky surface of Mars can be clearly seen with the Insight rover in the foreground.

It had touched down after seven months and more than 300 million miles and at a cost of a billion dollars.

InSight had a six-minute window in which to decelerate from just under 13,000mph to 5mph – landing entirely based on autonomous and pre-programmed systems.

It withstood temperatures up to 1,500C (2,700F) – hot enough to melt steel – before deploying its parachute and 12 retro-rockets to gently touch down in an area known as Elysium Planitia.

InSight will need to wait for the dust from landing to settle before it can really get on with business.

The first picture from NASA’s InSight lander immediately after landing. Pic: NASA

The craft’s solar array motors will warm up and prepare to unfurl the solar panels – an important activity that ensures the lander, which is completely solar-powered, has all the power it needs.

The first picture from InSight, taken with a fish-eye lens and through a dust cover, shows the planet’s horizon, which NASA said suggests the landing was a success.

The UK Space Agency also tweeted its celebration and noted that a British-made instrument was on board.

A seismometer – which will “listen” for tremors – was designed by a team at Imperial College London.

It is so sensitive that when the engineers tested it at a lab in Oxford they were able to detect the vibrations from church bells being rung on a Sunday morning.

If the instrument establishes that Mars has the remains of a liquid core it will suggest the planet once had a magnetic field that could have shielded early life – before dramatically and mysteriously weakening.

Professor Tom Pike, who led the Imperial team, told: “On Earth our magnetic field is important for protecting us from radiation and also protecting our atmosphere from being swept away by solar winds.

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