A competition organized by NASA was won by InSight, which included a boat that could have been used to sail the waters of Titan and a probe that would have been able to leap across a comet’s surface. The competition focused on planetary missions costs around $425 million and InSight was chosen over two other major plans. NASA’s mission to Mars has been delayed, due to a leak registered on Insight’s lander.
The instrument that was discovered to have leaks in its vacuum container was a seismographic instrument designed by the French. The seismometer designed for InSight is able to measure the thickness of Mars’ crust and mantle. The instrument is also able to detect movements in the soil, even those as small as atoms. During various tests, the seismometer leaked multiple times and failed a cold temperature experiment on Monday. In order for the sensor to survive the harsh conditions on the red planet, the vacuum seal needs secure its main three sensors.
Before the leakage was discovered, the lander InSight was programmed to be launched on Mars in March. The mission of InSight would have included the study of the geological processes, the internal structure of the planet and the existing tectonic activities.
NASA’s experts had to make a difficult decision and stop the mission. According to one of the experts, the decision was hard to make, especially since they got really close to finishing the preparations. The difficulties they encountered prove that doing something for the first time can prove to be extremely challenging.
The InSight lander will be sent to the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, with the help of a C-17 airplane. There, the experts will try to figure out which are the problems and how can they fix them in order for NASA to be able to send the spacecraft to Mars.
Researchers are currently trying to figure out how to grow vegetables and fruits on the red planet, in order to make it a reliable food source for the population of the Earth. These researchers are part of the experiment led by the International Potato Center focuses on building a dome on Mars that could support farming.
As NASA’s plans have been delayed, the European Space Agency is planning its own mission to Mars. According to a representative, the preparations for the mission are coming to an end and they are already planning another mission to Mars as soon as 2018.
As NASA’s mission to Mars has been delayed, it is possible that the InSight spacecraft will be launched only in May 2018.
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