NASA announced last week that the InSight mission to Mars will begin on May 5 next year. It will investigate the deep interior of the red rocky planet, to provide information about how it formed and evolved. A Mars landing is scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018.
The main mission of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) is to study rocky planets like Mars since it will give us information about how our planet developed.
Previously, the space agency had planned to launch the spacecraft in March 2016, however, a vacuum leak was found in one instrument of the vehicle. As a result, the NASA had to suspend preparations for launch. However, the NASA and Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) said that both agencies are planning to overcome all technical challenges.
“The quest to understand the interior of Mars has been a longstanding goal of planetary scientists for decades. We’re excited to be back on the path for a launch, now in 2018.” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, in a press release.
The component that failed in December is currently being re-designed by the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. According to Marc Pircher, director of CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre, the mission’s objective is to find clues in the heart of Mars about the early evolution of our solar system.
The Red Planet generates worldwide interest
InSight has a multi-national science team, formed by researchers from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, said NASA in a press release published last week. NASA is committed to send humans to the Red Planet. But first, the space agency will launch robotic missions.
Currently, it is developing the Mars 2020 rover, while Opportunity and Curiosity rovers are exploring the Martian surface and Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft are orbiting the planet, along with the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission orbiter, to understand how the planet works, so future missions with humans can be achieved.
InSight has costed $525 to the NASA. However, the delay in the mission can generate new costs that were not previously calculated. That being said, workers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that the new re-designed instrument will be rigorously tested to determine if it can accomplish its purpose over the Martian surface.
Other space projects carried out by the NASA, such as the Mars 2020 rover are considerably more expensive. The latter is estimated to cost approximately $1.9 billion, but it will be equipped with several science instruments and complex technology.