Just as Curiosity revs up its scientific mission on Mars, NASA has selected a new mission to the Red Planet.
The space agency announced that InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior.
InSight would launch in 2016. The lander would investigate whether the core of Mars is solid or liquid like Earth’s, and why Mars’ crust is not divided into tectonic plates that drift like Earth’s.
Detailed knowledge of the interior of Mars in comparison to Earth will help scientists understand better how terrestrial planets form and evolve.
InSight will be led by W. Bruce Banerdt at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
InSight beat out two other proposed missions: a mission to a comet and Saturn’s moon Titan.
The cost of the InSight mission, excluding the launch vehicle and related services, is capped at $425 million in 2010 dollars.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft.
Check out this video about how InSight will operate on Mars.
By Leonard David