Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
NASA’s InSight lander and associated hardware, as seen by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. In the large main photo, the lander is at left-center, the parachute and backshell at the bottom and the heat shield at upper right.

NASA’s newly arrived Mars lander has been spotted by a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft.


The space agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter used its supersharp High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE) to photograph the InSight lander, as well as the hardware that helped the stationary robot ace its Nov. 26 touchdown on the equatorial plain known as Elysium Planitia.

“It looks like the heat shield (upper right) has its dark outside facing down, since it is so bright (saturated, probably a specular reflection),”

“The lander (middle) disturbed dust over a fair distance and has darkened the surface, as seen previously at the Phoenix and Curiosity landing sites,” McEwen added, referring to the touchdowns of NASA’s Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover in May 2008 and August 2012, respectively. “The bright spot associated with the lander is probably another specular reflection, and there are two smaller bluish extensions that are the solar arrays, plus their shadows.”

– HiRISE principal investigator Alfred McEwen, of the University of Arizona, wrote in an image description today (Dec. 13). [Mars InSight in Photos: NASA’s Mission to Probe Core of the Red Planet]

NASA has released three of the images taken by HiRISE. In these fascinating pictures, the Lander’s gear appears teal because light reflected off their surfaces causes the color to be saturated.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona