NASA’s InSight lander touches down on Mars after daring maneuver

The mechanical three-legged, one-armed mining spacecraft landed as planned just before 3 p.m. ET. InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will be the first mission to drill into the deep interior of Mars as well as investigate if there are “Marsquakes.”

PHOTO: In this frame grab taken from NASA TV on Nov. 26, 2018, debris is seen on the lens in the first image from NASAs InSight lander after it touched down on the surface of Mars.NASA TV via AFP/Getty Images
In this frame grab taken from NASA TV on Nov. 26, 2018, debris is seen on the lens in the first image from NASA’s InSight lander after it touched down on the surface of Mars.more +

“It was tense, you could feel the emotion. It was celebratory with every new information we received,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on a NASA livestream. He said he received a call on his cellphone from a number that was “all zeroes” seconds after the landing.

It was Vice President Mike Pence.

“He watched the whole thing. He is absolutely ecstatic about our program,” Bridenstine said. “He wants me to say congratulations to everyone here at NASA and all of our international partners.”

Pence is chairman of the National Space Council and promotes President Trump’s “Space Force” plan for a branch of the military in outer space.

PHOTO: This NASA illustration shows a simulated view of NASAs InSight lander firing retrorockets to slow down as it descends toward the surface of Mars.JPL-Caltech/NASA via AFP/Getty Images
This NASA illustration shows a simulated view of NASA’s InSight lander firing retrorockets to slow down as it descends toward the surface of Mars.more +

Dressed in maroon button-down shirts, scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, could be seen cheering, clapping and hugging after the daring landing. The trip that started seven months and more than 300 million miles ago ended in an anxiety-filled but ultimately smooth last six minutes of entry, descent and landing onto the Martian surface.

Jars of peanuts, a good luck token at JPL, were seen throughout the room.

“Flawless. This is what we hoped and imagined in our minds’ eye. It looked like it was a very successful and perfect landing,” Rob Manning, JPL’s chief engineer, said minutes after the probe landed.

“The vehicle is nominal. It’s happy. The lander is not complaining. We had a way to tell us if it was unhappy, and it wasn’t,” Manning said. It’s a normal mode.”

InSight will open its solar panels after it waits for dust to literally clear about four hours after the lander guided itself onto Martian soil. The last several minutes were fraught with anxiety, as technicians braced for any possible scenario. For example, before the parachute deployed, portions of the heat shield became as hot as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

PHOTO: An artists concept released by NASA illustrates the InSight spacecraft approaching Mars.Illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech
An artist’s concept released by NASA illustrates the InSight spacecraft approaching Mars.

“We’ve studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry,” Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a press release. “Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system.”

InSight marks the first attempt since 2012 for an American spacecraft to visit the red planet.

PHOTO: An undated handout illustration made available by NASA shows a simulated view of NASAs InSight lander descending towards the surface of Mars on its parachute.NASA/JPL-Caltech via EPA/Shutterstock
An undated handout illustration made available by NASA shows a simulated view of NASA’s InSight lander descending towards the surface of Mars on its parachute.more +

NASA scientists took nothing for granted. On Sunday at 4:47 p.m. ET, engineers were still correcting course “to steer the spacecraft within a few kilometers of its targeted entry point over Mars,” NASA said.

The monitoring and adjustments to InSight’s path continued until the last minute.

PHOTO: The NASA Martian lander InSight dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars is seen in an undated artists rendering. NASA via Reuters
The NASA Martian lander InSight dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars is seen in an undated artist’s rendering.

“It’s taken more than a decade to bring InSight from a concept to a spacecraft approaching Mars — and even longer since I was first inspired to try to undertake this kind of mission,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator. “But even after landing, we’ll need to be patient for the science to begin.”

Exclusive: Ivanka Trump defends use of private email, brushes aside Mueller probe

PHOTO: Ivanka Trump sits down with ABC News Deborah Roberts for an exclusive interview, Nov. 27, 2018.PlayABC News
WATCH Ivanka Trump defends use of private email

Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter and a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, defended her use of a private email account while transitioning to an administration job, insisting to ABC News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday “there’s no connection between” her situation and Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

Speaking with ABC News’ Deborah Roberts in Wilder, Idaho, where she’s promoting STEM initiatives alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook, Ivanka Trump maintained that all of the emails on her private account were properly archived and contained no classified information. She is adamant they bear no resemblance to Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, which her father eagerly and frequently condemned as part of his campaign for president.

“All of my emails are stored and preserved. There were no deletions. There is no attempt to hide,” she said, adding, “There’s no equivalency to what my father’s spoken about.”

The Washington Post first reported earlier this month that the president’s daughter had used a personal email account to conduct official government business. The president has defended his daughter’s private email use, telling reporters last week that he looked at the matter and concluded that “they’re all in presidential records.”

PHOTO: Ivanka Trump sits down with ABC News Deborah Roberts for an exclusive interview, Nov. 27, 2018.ABC News
Ivanka Trump sits down with ABC News’ Deborah Roberts for an exclusive interview, Nov. 27, 2018.

“There is no restriction of using personal email,” she said. “In fact, we’re instructed that if we receive an email to our personal account that could relate to government work, you simply just forward it to your government account so it can be archived.”

But last week, Democrats on Capitol Hill wrote that they “want to know if Ivanka complied with the law” and in the next Congress plan to continue their investigation of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act.

Congressional investigators aside, Ivanka Trump said she has no fears of legal exposure for herself, her father, or anyone else in her family with regard to another investigation in Washington: special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

“I know the facts as they relate to me and my family, and so I have nothing to be concerned about,” she said.

Asked whether she thinks Mueller’s probe should be allowed to continue, Ivanka Trump echoed her father’s sentiment that the time has come for the special counsel to close up shop.

“I think it should reach its conclusion. I think it’s been a long time that this has been ongoing, but I want it to be done in a way in which nobody could question that it was hurried or rushed,” she said. “And I think after this long period of time, we’re well beyond that point, so I think it absolutely should reach its conclusion.”

In addition to the scrutiny of various investigators in Washington, Ivanka Trump has faced obstacles closer to home during her transition from a working mother of three to the spotlight of the White House. In her role as a senior aide to the president, Ivanka Trump advocates for policy initiatives she is passionate about — some of which the president supports, some he doesn’t.

PHOTO: Ivanka Trump sits down with ABC News Deborah Roberts for an exclusive interview, Nov. 27, 2018.ABC News
Ivanka Trump sits down with ABC News’ Deborah Roberts for an exclusive interview, Nov. 27, 2018.

Despite their differences of opinion on some issues, she insists they have a good working relationship.

“He is my father, and he’s my boss. And one of the reasons that I have such a good relationship with him in both a personal and professional capacity is because I’m incredibly candid with him,” she said.

Sometimes, however, she said she outright disagrees with the president — “frequently,” in fact.

“He knows exactly where I stand on any issue,” she said. “I’ll always tell you what I’m for, but it is not my place as somebody working within a White House to tell you what I’m against. The only person who knows that is one person, and he knows it.”

Nowhere is that dissonance more visible than in her father’s immigration policy, where he’s been accused of stirring racial sentiment by sending thousands of active-duty military to the southern border to meet a migrant caravan from Central America.

Earlier this week, ABC News reported that border patrol agents dispersed tear gas on migrants who attempted to breach the border. She called the images “heartbreaking” and “devastating” to see as a mother, but agreed with her father that securing the border is the priority.

“I think, like any other person with a heart, it’s devastating to see the images and seeing children put at risk. Running towards the border is heartbreaking,” she said. “But there are people in the caravan who are not so innocent … [the president] has to protect our country’s security.”

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NASA’s InSight spacecraft landed on Mars Monday afternoon, finishing one journey — through space — and now launching on another: to go deeper into Mars.

The mechanical three-legged, one-armed mining spacecraft landed as planned just before 3 p.m. ET. InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will be the first mission to drill into the deep interior of Mars as well as investigate if there are “Marsquakes.”

PHOTO: In this frame grab taken from NASA TV on Nov. 26, 2018, debris is seen on the lens in the first image from NASAs InSight lander after it touched down on the surface of Mars.NASA TV via AFP/Getty Images
In this frame grab taken from NASA TV on Nov. 26, 2018, debris is seen on the lens in the first image from NASA’s InSight lander after it touched down on the surface of Mars.more +

“It was tense, you could feel the emotion. It was celebratory with every new information we received,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on a NASA livestream. He said he received a call on his cellphone from a number that was “all zeroes” seconds after the landing.

It was Vice President Mike Pence.

“He watched the whole thing. He is absolutely ecstatic about our program,” Bridenstine said. “He wants me to say congratulations to everyone here at NASA and all of our international partners.”

Pence is chairman of the National Space Council and promotes President Trump’s “Space Force” plan for a branch of the military in outer space.

PHOTO: This NASA illustration shows a simulated view of NASAs InSight lander firing retrorockets to slow down as it descends toward the surface of Mars.JPL-Caltech/NASA via AFP/Getty Images
This NASA illustration shows a simulated view of NASA’s InSight lander firing retrorockets to slow down as it descends toward the surface of Mars.more +

Dressed in maroon button-down shirts, scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, could be seen cheering, clapping and hugging after the daring landing. The trip that started seven months and more than 300 million miles ago ended in an anxiety-filled but ultimately smooth last six minutes of entry, descent and landing onto the Martian surface.

Jars of peanuts, a good luck token at JPL, were seen throughout the room.

“Flawless. This is what we hoped and imagined in our minds’ eye. It looked like it was a very successful and perfect landing,” Rob Manning, JPL’s chief engineer, said minutes after the probe landed.

“The vehicle is nominal. It’s happy. The lander is not complaining. We had a way to tell us if it was unhappy, and it wasn’t,” Manning said. It’s a normal mode.”

InSight will open its solar panels after it waits for dust to literally clear about four hours after the lander guided itself onto Martian soil. The last several minutes were fraught with anxiety, as technicians braced for any possible scenario. For example, before the parachute deployed, portions of the heat shield became as hot as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

PHOTO: An artists concept released by NASA illustrates the InSight spacecraft approaching Mars.Illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech
An artist’s concept released by NASA illustrates the InSight spacecraft approaching Mars.

“We’ve studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry,” Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a press release. “Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system.”

InSight marks the first attempt since 2012 for an American spacecraft to visit the red planet.

PHOTO: An undated handout illustration made available by NASA shows a simulated view of NASAs InSight lander descending towards the surface of Mars on its parachute.NASA/JPL-Caltech via EPA/Shutterstock
An undated handout illustration made available by NASA shows a simulated view of NASA’s InSight lander descending towards the surface of Mars on its parachute.more +

NASA scientists took nothing for granted. On Sunday at 4:47 p.m. ET, engineers were still correcting course “to steer the spacecraft within a few kilometers of its targeted entry point over Mars,” NASA said.

The monitoring and adjustments to InSight’s path continued until the last minute.

PHOTO: The NASA Martian lander InSight dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars is seen in an undated artists rendering. NASA via Reuters
The NASA Martian lander InSight dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars is seen in an undated artist’s rendering.

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