NASA Targets May 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission

Feb. 18, 2018, 3:46 a.m. By: Kirti

Mars InSight Mission 2018

The Interior Exploration of NASA 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 that is scheduled for the 26th of November this year.

InSight’s primary goal is to help us understand how rocky planets – including Earth – formed and evolved. The spacecraft until a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument took place had been on track to launch this month. This incident prompted NASA in December to suspend its preparations for launch.

Recently, the project managers of InSight briefed the officials on a path forward at NASA and France's space agency, Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES): in support of a 2018 launch the proposed plan to redesign the science instrument was accepted.

“The science goals of InSight are compelling, and the NASA and CNES plan 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 InSight spacecraft is designed to land on the surface of Mars, where it will study the interior of the Red Planet and figure out how the world formed billions of years ago. The instrument, that is meant to analyze quakes on Mars but due a leak that was spotted in one of the spacecraft’s instruments got the mission to be delayed is now fixed and the spacecraft is nearly ready for its trip. The launch of InSight on top of an Atlas V rocket is planned for sometime within a 30-day launch window that has its opening on 5th of May and should land on Mars on November 26th that is around seven months later.

Difficulties and the solution:

After the journey of InSight through space, it will arrive at Mars and land on its surface on the 26th of November. But landing on the Red Planet is tough due to the thin atmosphere of Mars, which provides a very little cushion to slow any incoming spacecraft. As a result of which, like Europe and Russia’s ExoMars lander did in 2016, Many other Mars-bound spacecraft have come in too fast during landing attempts and created new craters on the planet’s surface.

To solve this issue, InSight will make the use of a combination of parachutes and onboard engines in order to gently lower itself down to the Martian surface. The entire landing of the spacecraft is supposed to last just around seven minutes, and if the whole process turns out to be successful, the spacecraft will spend the next two years studying Mars and its interior.

NASA is, therefore, on an ambitious journey on its way to Mars that includes sending humans to the Red Planet, and that work continues to remain on track. Robotic spacecraft are putting forward the way for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, with the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers exploring the Martian surface, the upcoming Mars 2020 rover that is being designed and built, the Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft currently orbiting the planet, along with the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) orbiter, all of these together are contributing in helping the scientists to understand what happened to the Martian atmosphere.

More Information : InSight Mars Lander

NASA's Next step to Mars, May 2018 Launch Date, Insight Mission

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