[meteorite-list] Construction to Begin on NASA Mars Lander Scheduled to Launch in 2016 (InSight)
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 19 May 2014 14:54:10 -0700 (PDT)
May 19, 2014
Construction to Begin on NASA Mars Lander Scheduled to Launch in 2016
NASA and its international partners now have the go-ahead to begin
construction on a new Mars lander after it completed a successful Mission
Critical Design Review on Friday.
NASA's Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat
Transport (InSight) mission will pierce beneath the Martian surface to study
its interior. The mission will investigate how Earth-like planets formed and
developed their layered inner structure of core, mantle and crust, and will
collect information about those interior zones using instruments never before
used on Mars.
InSight will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, on the central California
coast near Lompoc, in March 2016. This will be the first interplanetary
mission ever to launch from California. The mission will help inform the
agency's goal of sending a human mission to Mars in the 2030's.
InSight team leaders presented mission-design results this week to a NASA
review board, which approved advancing to the next stage of preparation.
"Our partners across the globe have made significant progress in getting to
this point and are fully prepared to deliver their hardware to system
integration starting this November, which is the next major milestone for the
project," said Tom Hoffman, InSight Project Manager of NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California. "We now move from doing the design
and analysis to building and testing the hardware and software that will get
us to Mars and collect the science that we need to achieve mission success."
To investigate the planet's interior, the stationary lander will carry a
robotic arm that will deploy surface and burrowing instruments contributed by
France and Germany. The national space agencies of France and Germany --
Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-
und Raumfahrt (DLR) -- are partnering with NASA by providing InSight's two
main science instruments.
The Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) will be built by CNES in
partnership with DLR and the space agencies of Switzerland and the United
Kingdom. It will measure waves of ground motion carried through the interior
of the planet, from "marsquakes" and meteor impacts. The Heat Flow and
Physical Properties Package, from DLR, will measure heat coming toward the
surface from the planet's interior.
"Mars actually offers an advantage over Earth itself for understanding how
habitable planetary surfaces can form," said Bruce Banerdt, InSight Principal
Investigator from JPL. "Both planets underwent the same early processes. But
Mars, being smaller, cooled faster and became less active while Earth kept
churning. So Mars better preserves the evidence about the early stages of
rocky planets' development."
The three-legged lander will go to a site near the Martian equator and
provide information for a planned mission length of 720 days -- about two
years. InSight adapts a design from the successful NASA Phoenix Mars Lander,
which examined ice and soil on far-northern Mars in 2008.
"We will incorporate many features from our Phoenix spacecraft into InSight,
but the differences between the missions require some differences in the
InSight spacecraft," said InSight Program Manager Stu Spath of Lockheed
Martin Space Systems Company, Denver, Colorado. "For example, the InSight
mission duration is 630 days longer than Phoenix, which means the lander will
have to endure a wider range of environmental conditions on the surface."
Guided by images of the surroundings taken by the lander, InSight's robotic
arm will place the seismometer on the surface and then place a protective
covering over it to minimize effects of wind and temperature on the sensitive
instrument. The arm will also put the heat-flow probe in position to hammer
itself into the ground to a depth of 3 to 5 yards (2.7 to 4 1/2 meters).
Another experiment will use the radio link between InSight and NASA's Deep
Space Network antennas on Earth to precisely measure a wobble in Mars'
rotation that could reveal whether Mars has a molten or solid core. Wind and
temperature sensors from Spain's Centro de Astrobiologia and a pressure
sensor will monitor weather at the landing site, and a magnetometer will
measure magnetic disturbances caused by the Martian ionosphere.
InSight's international science team is made up of researchers from Austria,
Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the
United Kingdom and the United States. JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate, Washington. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program
of competitively selected mission. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program. Lockheed Martin will
build the lander and other parts of the spacecraft at its Littleton,
Colorado, facility near Denver.
For more about InSight, visit:
For more information about Mars missions:
For more about the Discovery Program, visit:
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov
Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver
gary.p.napier at lmco.com
Received on Mon 19 May 2014 05:54:10 PM PDT