Construction to begin on new Mars lander

From NASA Reports
New lander will explore surface of Mars. Image: NASA.
New lander will explore surface of Mars. Image: NASA.
Plans for another Mars lander, this one tasked with studying the red planet's interior, are quickly progressing.

    NASA's InSight mission (Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) passed a design review May 16. The mission's lander eventually will be sent to Mars to pierce beneath the planet's surface and study its interior.
    “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 in 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."
    InSight is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, on the central California coast near Lompoc, in March 2016.
    The mission will investigate how Earthlike planets formed and developed their layered inner structure of core, mantle and crust. InSight will collect information about those interior zones using instruments never before used on Mars. It also will provide information that helps NASA reach its goal of sending a human mission to Mars in the 2030s.
     "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.


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