InSight lander touches down on Mars

InSight lander touches down on Mars

The Mars InSight lander has touched down on the dusty Red Planet after sailing 548 million kilometres over a six-month voyage through deep space.

The landing, which took place just before 7:00am AEDT, saw the NASA spacecraft hurtle through the top of Mars' thin atmosphere at 19,795km per hour.

Slowed by friction, deployment of a supersonic parachute and the firing of retro rockets, InSight descended 123km through pink skies to the surface in 6.5 minutes.

It sent back a photo shortly after landing showing a successful touchdown on the surface, with the camera's transparent lens cap still on and covered in dust.

Just over an hour later, the nano spacecraft Marco B cubesat — tasked with monitoring the Mars InSight lander's journey — sent a farewell image of the Red Planet back to Earth.

The probe later sent another photo back, giving a much clearer view with the lens cap removed, ABC news reported.

The landing site is roughly 600km from the 2012 landing spot of the car-sized Mars rover Curiosity, the last spacecraft sent to the Red Planet by NASA.

The smaller, 360kg InSight — its name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — marks the 21st US-launched Mars mission, dating back to the Mariner fly-bys of the 1960s.

InSight will spend 24 months — about one Martian year — using seismic monitoring and underground temperature readings to unlock mysteries about how Mars formed and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system.