24 August 2019
Washington: The influence of "The Rolling Stones" has just extended from Earth to Mars, as the team behind NASA's InSight lander has named a Martian rock after the legendary music band.
The announcement was made on Thursday.
The Rolling Stones -- Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood -- were delighted with the news.
"What a wonderful way to celebrate the 'Stones No Filter' tour arriving in Pasadena. This is definitely a milestone in our long and eventful history. A huge thank you to everyone at NASA for making it happen," they said.
A little larger than a golf ball, the rock appeared to have rolled about three feet (1 meter) on November 26, 2018, propelled by InSight's thrusters as the spacecraft touched down on Mars to study the Red Planet's deep interior.
It's the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll while landing a spacecraft on another planet.
"The name Rolling Stones Rock is a perfect fit," Lori Glaze, Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington, said in a statement.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago.
It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle and core.
InSight launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, 2018. After a six-month cruise, it landed on Mars on November 26, 2018.
The InSight mission is led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.