InSight Mars Lander Unfurls Solar Wings Amid 'Quiet Beauty' of Red Planet

PASADENA, Calif. — After a dramatic and exhilarating landing on Mars, NASA's newest Martian robot InSight has found some serenity on the Red Planet. And now, it's soaking up the sun. 

The InSight Mars lander has successfully unfurled its two fan-like solar arrays, allowing the robot to generate the power it will need to study the Martian interior for the next two years, NASA officials said late Monday (Nov. 26). NASA received confirmation that the solar arrays were deployed at 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 Nov. 27 GMT), about five-and-a-half hours after InSight landed on Mars

"The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries," Tom Hoffman, NASA's InSight project manager here at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in a statement. "It's been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase." [NASA's InSight Mars Lander: Full Coverage]

Each of InSight's two solar wings are 7 feet (2.2 meters) wide. When unfurled, the arrays give the lander a wingspan equivalent in size to a "big 1960s convertible," NASA officials said in the same statement.

NASA's InSight Mars lander captured this view of its surroundings shortly after touching down on the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech via Twitter)

News of the solar array milestone came with a spectacular photo of Mars by InSight showing a view of the robot's Elysium Planitia landing site as seen from the deck of the spacecraft. 

"There's a quiet beauty here," the InSight mission team wrote on Twitter. "Looking forward to exploring my new home." You can see more amazing InSight Mars landing day photos here.

NASA's $850 million InSight mission is designed to probe the interior of Mars with a seismometer, heat probe and other instruments to study how the planet formed. Mission scientists hope that discoveries from InSight will shed light on mysteries of Earth's own formation, as well as that of other terrestrial planets. 

InSight (the name is short for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport") launched toward the Red Planet on May 5.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.