NASA recently revealed that its InSight mission to Mars is once again back on track after a two-years delay caused by a technical problem. This soon to be deplored lander will go deeper down into the surface of Mars than any other spacecraft deployed until now. In doing so, it is looking to gather more information on Mars, rocky planets, and Earth itself and how life evolved on it.
The InSight Mission Set to Launch in May 2018
InSight or the Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport was originally planned to depart last year, in March. However, a leaky container led to the two years delay before the problem could be fixed.
Now, the mission is set to go ahead and launch in May of 2018. The spacecraft is scheduled to depart from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the first ever interplanetary spacecraft launched from the West Coast.
The InSight mission will go well down below the surface of the Red Planet. Depending on its launch date, be it May or June, the spacecraft should land on Mars sometime after Thanksgiving 2018 and near the equator.
Once there, it will begin its two years long mission. A heat probe will dig down some 10 feet into the surface of the Red Planet. In doing so, it will be analyzing the energy coming from Mars’s interior.
The spacecraft will also be carrying a very sensitive seismometer. This will detect and monitor the seismic activity or even meteor impacts on the planet. In doing so, it will be looking to reveal more about what is going on beneath the surface.
The InSight mission is also seeking to find out how much Mars ‘wobbles’ in its orbit. This might help point to the structure of its core.
All this gathered information should help reveal how the planet formed and evolved. This data would then be compared to our Earth’s history, and to other rocky planets as well. NASA hopes that this information will help explain how Earth ended up brimming with life and Mars desolate.
Image Source: JPL/NASA