The next Mars mission scheduled for May 2018 is designed to measure “marsquakes”. The InSight mission will monitor and measure any seismic activity on the Red Planet. The InSight craft was supposed to be launched later this month, but technical irregularities obligated the Space Agency to postpone the start until 2018.
During final inspections, the team working on the InSight project discovered some cracks in the quakes detection instrument. The damage amounts to a whopping $150 million.
The Space Agency declared that the spacecraft would eventually be launched, leaving people to wonder if the money for the reparations will be used from the budget for other space missions or if they found an alternate sponsor.
The InSight spacecraft will be launched in May 2018 and, once it safely lands on the Red Planet, it will monitor any signs of seismic activity, register the amounts of heat that escape the planet and any sudden changes of the surface.
The current problem with the instrument is that the French company which was subcontracted to design and build the container that encloses the sensors of the seismometer in a vacuum did not seal it properly. And it was only in December when the team tested the spacecraft in Mars-like temperatures that they noticed the cracks in the seals.
The team in charge of the project tried to patch the cracks, but no matter the solution that they came up with, the leaks remained persistent. They then had no other choice than to report the problem to NASA and ask for a delay.
InSight was developed in the Discovery Program funded by the National Aeronautics Space Agency. There are currently five missions vying for an opportunity to launch in the 2020s. Besides the vessel that will monitor any “marsquakes”, the Discovery Program also funded a spacecraft that will make a trip to the Trojan Asteroids near Jupiter, two missions that are headed out to Venus and a specially-designed camera that will detect any objects that approach our planet.
NASA officials have been trying to select two projects from the list that will receive a definitive accord for launching. And according to Jim Green, the planetary science director at the Space Agency, the budget will be all worked out by the end of August, and the Agency will select a Discovery mission in December.
The next Mars mission scheduled for May 2018 will measure the seismologic activity on the Red Planet. But until then, the Space Agency must choose another Discovery mission to support fully.
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