[meteorite-list] NASA Targets May 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2016 16:07:34 -0700 (PDT)
NASA Targets May 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
March 9, 2016
NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and
Heat Transport (InSight) mission to study the deep interior of Mars is
targeting a new launch window that begins May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing
scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018.
InSight's primary goal is to help us understand how rocky planets -- including
Earth -- formed and evolved. The spacecraft had been on track to launch
this month until a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument prompted
NASA in December to suspend preparations for launch.
InSight project managers recently briefed officials at NASA and France's
space agency, Centre National d'?tudes Spatiales (CNES), on a path forward;
the proposed plan to redesign the science instrument was accepted in support
of a 2018 launch.
"The science goals of InSight are compelling, and the NASA and CNES plans
to overcome the technical challenges are sound," said John Grunsfeld,
associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
"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."
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will redesign,
build and conduct qualifications of the new vacuum enclosure for the Seismic
Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), the component that failed in
December. CNES will lead instrument level integration and test activities,
allowing the InSight Project to take advantage of each organization's
proven strengths. The two agencies have worked closely together to establish
a project schedule that accommodates these plans, and scheduled interim
reviews over the next six months to assess technical progress and continued
The cost of the two-year delay is being assessed. An estimate is expected
in August, once arrangements with the launch vehicle provider have been
The seismometer instrument's main sensors need to operate within a vacuum
chamber to provide the exquisite sensitivity needed for measuring ground
movements as small as half the radius of a hydrogen atom. The rework of
the seismometer's vacuum container will result in a finished, thoroughly
tested instrument in 2017 that will maintain a high degree of vacuum around
the sensors through rigors of launch, landing, deployment and a two-year
prime mission on the surface of Mars.
The InSight mission draws upon a strong international partnership led
by Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt of JPL. The lander's Heat Flow
and Physical Properties Package is provided by the German Aerospace Center
(DLR). This probe will hammer itself to a depth of about 16 feet (5 meters)
into the ground beside the lander.
SEIS was built with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe
de Paris and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, with support from
the Swiss Space Office and the European Space Agency PRODEX program; the
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, supported by DLR; Imperial
College, supported by the United Kingdom Space Agency; and JPL.
"The shared and renewed commitment to this mission continues our collaboration
to find clues in the heart of Mars about the early evolution of our solar
system," said Marc Pircher, director of CNES's Toulouse Space Centre.
The mission's international science team includes 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. InSight is
part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The InSight spacecraft, including
cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space
Systems in Denver. It was delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,
in December 2015 in preparation for launch, and returned to Lockheed Martin's
Colorado facility last month for storage until spacecraft preparations
resume in 2017.
NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars that includes sending humans to
the Red Planet, and that work remains on track. Robotic spacecraft are
leading the way for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, with the upcoming
Mars 2020 rover being designed and built, the Opportunity and Curiosity
rovers exploring the Martian surface, the Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter spacecraft currently orbiting the planet, along with the Mars
Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) orbiter, which is helping
scientists understand what happened to the Martian atmosphere.
NASA and CNES also are participating in ESA's (European Space Agency's)
Mars Express mission currently operating at Mars. NASA is participating
on ESA's 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing telecommunication
radios for ESA's 2016 orbiter and a critical element of a key astrobiology
instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover.
For addition information about the mission, visit:
More information about NASA's journey to Mars is available online at:
Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo at nasa.gov
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.w.webster at jpl.nasa.gov
Pascale Bresson / Nathalie Journo
Centre National d'?tudes Spatiales, Paris
+33-1-44-76-75-39 / +33-5-61-27-39-11
pascale.bresson at cnes.fr / nathalie.journo at cnes.fr
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
+49 2203 601 3882
manuela.braun at DLR.de
Received on Tue 15 Mar 2016 07:07:34 PM PDT