Did you see The Martian three years ago? The move that’s like Robinson Crusoe but better because it’s in space? If not, I’ll let you go watch it then come back; it’s super worth it. Or you can go check out the book, which is ALSO super worth it. Right. Done? Because ladies and gentlemen, we are one step closer to making The Martian a reality! At least the space travel part, hopefully not the ‘strand-Matt-Damon-on-another-planet’ part. And that’s partly thanks to Colorado!

That’s right, our humble local space nerds (just kidding, I love you) down at the Lockheed Martin in Littleton did most of the creative and developmental work to create InSight, the first lander in six years to go to Mars. According to CBS, InSight successfully touched down on the Red Planet on Monday, to the great relief of everyone at NASA and Lockheed Martin. It was no small feat, either, as the Little Lander that Could ended its seven-month, 90-million-mile journey with an almost-gentle arrival on the planet’s surface. Almost-gentle, because the thing had to slow down from 12,500 mph hours to five in order to stick its landing. And survive temperatures of up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit and a braking force of 7.5 times the Earth’s gravity. Not to mention the fact that the lander’s telemetry takes about 8 minutes to get from Mars to Earth, so InSight was essentially on her own when making the plunge to the planet. Not bad, InSight, not bad.

InSight Prelaunch Briefing
(NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Now all that’s left is to study the early evolution of Mars by taking samples from the planet’s core and surface. No biggie, right? NASA hopes that studying Mars’ makeup will help us better understand the formation of Mercury, Venus, and Earth, to see how space rocks become the planets we know and love. Then, last but not least, InSight will also be looking at tectonic activity and meteoric impacts on the ‘Red Planet.’ Thanks to this work, CBS reporter Dillon Thomas has heard “that people might be able to arrive on Mars by the mid-2040s.” It’s nice to have things to look forward to.

So way to go, Colorado, for getting us closer to the glorious day when we can strand not-Matt-Damon on Mars. I may not have technically helped get InSight to another planet, but is that going to stop me from bragging about it?

Absolutely not.

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