APPROVED: 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission

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NASA’s budget for InSight was $675 million. InSight’s mission is to study the deep interior of Mars using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.

The mission was originally scheduled to launch in March of this year but was suspended due to a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

The SEIS instrument — designed to measure ground movements as small as half the radius of a hydrogen atom — requires a perfect vacuum seal around its three main sensors in order to withstand harsh conditions on the Red Planet. Under what’s known as the mission “replan,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will be responsible for redesigning, developing and qualifying the instrument’s evacuated container and the electrical feedthroughs that failed previously. France’s space agency, the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), will focus on developing and delivering the key sensors for SEIS, integration of the sensors into the container, and the final integration of the instrument onto the spacecraft. (read more here)

 

Preparing NASA’s InSight Spacecraft for Vibration Test

The InSight lander in its cruise stage configuration prior to undergoing acoustic testing at Lockheed Martin.

 

A new launch schedule begins May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018. Because of orbital dynamics, this is the soonest the lander can be on its way.

InSight’s primary goal is to help understand how rocky planets formed and evolved. The InSight Project is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, which is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Ronnie Rokk Smith

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