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Raumfahrt - Mars-Lander InSight 2016 - Update-1

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23.08.2012

Nach der erfolgreichen Landung des Mars Science Laboratory mit dem Rover Curiosity hat die NASA eine weitere Landemission für den Mars beschlossen. Die Mission InSight soll 2016 startklar sein und nach einem halbjährigen Flug am Mars ankommen. Dort soll InSight mit geophysikalischen Experimenten einen Blick in das Innere des Roten Planeten werfen, unter anderem mit einem am Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) entwickelten Experiment HP3, das mehrere Meter tief in den Marsboden eindringen wird, um dort Wärmefluss-Messungen vorzunehmen und die thermo-mechanischen Eigenschaften des Marsbodens zu erforschen.

"Mit der Auswahl der Mission InSight zeigt die NASA, wie wichtig ihr die Erforschung unseres Nachbarplaneten ist. Ich freue mich sehr, dass das DLR mit einem eigenen Experiment auf der Landesonde dazu beitragen kann, die Geheimnisse des Roten Planeten weiter zu erforschen", so Prof. Dr. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Vorstandsvorsitzender des DLR.

InSight steht für 'Interior Exploration using Seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport'. Der Missionsname zeigt, dass bei dieser Mission vor allem geophysikalische Experimente auf und unter der Marsoberfläche durchgeführt werden, beispielsweise durch Messung der Geschwindigkeit von seismischen Wellen oder des Wärmeflusses. Ziel der Mission ist es, den Aufbau und Zustand von Kern und Mantel, sowie die thermische Entwicklung des Mars besser zu verstehen. Am DLR wurde für InSight das Experiment HP3 entwickelt. HP3 steht für "Heat Flow and Physical Property Package".

"Bisher fand die Erforschung des Mars nur durch Beobachtungen aus der Umlaufbahn und direkt auf der Oberfläche statt", erklärt Professor Tilman Spohn, wissenschaftlicher Leiter von HP3 und Direktor des DLR-Instituts für Planetenforschung in Berlin-Adlershof. "Die Untersuchung des Inneren des Planeten steht hingegen erst am Anfang. HP3 wird sehr wichtige Impulse für die Marsforschung liefern können." Nach dem Strahlungsmessgerät RAD (Radiation Assessment Detector), das von der Universität Kiel gemeinsam mit dem DLR für die aktuelle Curiosity-Mission entwickelt wurde, und der hochauflösenden Stereokamera HRSC auf dem ESA-Orbiter Mars Express, ist HP3 das dritte DLR-Experiment zur Erforschung unseres Nachbarplaneten.

Mit einem elektro-mechanischen Maulwurf mehrere Meter in den Marsuntergrund

Seit geraumer Zeit beschäftigt sich die Planetenforschung mit der Frage, warum sich der Mars so anders im Vergleich zur Erde entwickelt hat, weshalb beispielsweise der etwas kleinere Mars keine Plattentektonik mit Kontinentalverschiebung hat. Dieser globale Prozess ist fundamental für den Kohlenstoffkreislauf auf der Erde und könnte den entscheidenden Unterschied ausmachen, warum auf der Erde die Voraussetzungen für Leben so viel günstiger sind als auf dem Mars. "Auf dem Mars floss früher aber Wasser, vielleicht waren also die Bedingungen für Leben auch einmal günstiger, wie zum Beispiel die durch Vulkanismus beeinflussten Temperaturen der Atmosphäre", erläutert Professor Spohn. "Der Mars ist nach wie vor der Körper im Sonnensystem, auf dem Leben jenseits der Erde am wahrscheinlichsten ist."

Das HP3-Experiment des DLR nutzt einen elektro-mechanischen Schlagmechanismus, der einen Instrumentenbehälter bis zu fünf Meter tief in den Marsboden einbringen kann. "Bisher ist solch ein vollautomatischer Maulwurf noch auf keinem Körper des Sonnensystems zum Einsatz gekommen", sagt Dr. Tim van Zoest, Physiker am DLR-Institut für Raumfahrtsysteme in Bremen, wo der Schlagmechanismus entwickelt wurde. "Vergleichbare Experimente zur Analyse des Untergrunds gab es bisher nur von Hand auf dem Mond bei den amerikanischen Apollomissionen 15 bis 17 zu Beginn der 1970er Jahre, das waren damals aber eher konventionelle Bohrer."

Die Sensoren von HP3 zur Messung des Wärmeflusses wurden am DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Institut für Weltraumforschung der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Graz entwickelt. Insbesondere soll der Wärmefluss unter der Marsoberfläche erfasst werden. Die Vermessung des Wärmeflusses direkt unter der Oberfläche ermöglicht es, auf die Wärmeproduktion im Marsinneren zu schließen. Damit ergeben sich Hinweise auf die Zusammensetzung des Mars und seine fortwährende Abkühlung, die im Zusammenhang mit dem noch heute stattfindenden Vulkanismus steht. Außerdem soll HP3 die geologische Schichtung in den ersten fünf Metern unter der Marsoberfläche - insbesondere hinsichtlich der Existenz von Eisvorkommen - durch die Vermessung der thermo-mechanischen Eigenschaften des Bodens erfassen.

InSight ist bereits die zwölfte Mission im Discovery-Programm der NASA, das sich durch kosteneffiziente Projekte mit einem vergleichsweise geringen Budget von rund 500 Millionen US-Dollar auszeichnet. Markenzeichen der Discovery-Missionen ist die starke Fokussierung auf bestimmte wissenschaftliche Fragestellungen. Geleitet wird die Mission von Dr. Bruce Banerdt vom Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), einem der renommiertesten amerikanischen Marsforscher. Neben dem DLR ist auch die französische Weltraumorganisation CNES beteiligt.

Quelle: DLR

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Update: 21.05.2014

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NASA 2016 Mars Mission To Begin Building Spacecraft

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DENVER, May 19, 2014 – The team preparing NASA's next Mars lander mission gained a green light today to begin building the spacecraft, which will study how Earthlike planets form. Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] will now begin building the InSight spacecraft.
The InSight mission will launch from California in March 2016 and touch down on Mars six months later. The stationary lander's robotic arm will then deploy surface and burrowing instruments from France and Germany to investigate the planet's interior.
InSight team leaders presented mission-design results this week to a NASA review board, and the board then gave approval for advancing to the next stage of preparation.
"The completion of the critical design review marks a major transition for the project," said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We move from doing the design and analysis to building and testing the hardware and software that will get us to Mars and collect the science that we need to achieve mission success. Our partners across the globe have made significant progress in getting to this point and are fully prepared to deliver their hardware to system integration starting this November, which is the next major milestone for the project."
InSight adapts a Lockheed Martin spacecraft design from the successful NASA Phoenix Mars Lander, which examined ice and soil on far-northern Mars in 2008, but InSight will study a different aspect of planetary history with instruments never previously used on Mars. The mission will investigate how Earth and other rocky planets developed their layered inner structure of core, mantle and crust, and will gain information about those interior zones.
"We will incorporate many features from our Phoenix lander into InSight, but the differences between the missions require some modifications for the InSight spacecraft," said Stu Spath, InSight program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems. "For example, the InSight mission duration is 630 days longer than Phoenix, which means that the lander will have to endure a wider range of environmental conditions on the surface.”
InSight's international science team is made up of researchers from Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program of competitively selected missions. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.
Quelle: Lockheed Martin
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Artist rendition of the formation of rocky bodies in the solar system - how they form and differentiate and evolve into terrestrial planets.
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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. But InSight is more than a Mars mission - it is a terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science - understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.
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By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars, detecting the fingerprints of the processes of terrestrial planet formation, as well as measuring the planet's "vital signs": Its "pulse" (seismology), "temperature" (heat flow probe), and "reflexes" (precision tracking). 
Why Mars?
Previous missions to Mars have investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil, but no one has attempted to investigate the planet's earliest evolution - its building blocks - which can only be found by looking far below the surface.
Because Mars has been less geologically active than the Earth (for example, it does not have plate tectonics), it actually retains a more complete record of its history in its own basic planetary building blocks: its core, mantle and crust.
By studying the size, thickness, density and overall structure of the Red Planet's core, mantle and crust, as well as the rate at which heat escapes from the planet's interior, the InSight mission will provide glimpses into the evolutionary processes of all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.
In terms of fundamental processes that shape planetary formation, Mars is a veritable "Goldilocks" planet, because it is big enough to have undergone the earliest internal heating and differentiation (separation of the crust, mantle and core) processes that shaped the terrestrial planets (Earth, Venus, Mercury, Moon), but small enough to have retained the signature of those processes over the next four billion years. Within its own structural signature, Mars may contain the most in-depth and accurate record in the solar system of these processes.
The InSight mission will follow the legacy of NASA's Mars Phoenix mission and send a lander to Mars, which will delve deeper into the surface than any other spacecraft - to investigate the planet's structure and composition as well as its tectonic activity as it relates to all terrestrial planets, including Earth.
Objectives
The InSight mission will seek to understand the evolutionary formation of rocky planets, including Earth, by investigating the interior structure and processes of Mars. InSight will also investigate the dynamics of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, which could offer clues about such phenomena on Earth.
Spacecraft and Payload
The InSight mission is similar in design to the Mars lander that the Phoenix mission used successfully in 2007 to study ground ice near the north pole of Mars. The reuse of this technology, developed and built by Lockheed-Martin Space Systems in Denver, CO, will provide a low-risk path to Mars without the added cost of designing and testing a new system from scratch.
The InSight lander will be equipped with two science instruments that will conduct the first "check-up" of Mars in more than 4.5 billion years, measuring its "pulse", or internal activity; its temperature; and its "reflexes" (the way the planet wobbles when it is pulled by the Sun and its moons). Scientists will be able to interpret this data to understand the planet's history, its interior structure and activity, and the forces that shaped rocky planet formation in the inner solar system.
The science payload is comprised of two instruments: the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), provided by the French Space Agency (CNES), with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Imperial College and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), provided by the German Space Agency (DLR). In addition, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE), led by JPL, will use the spacecraft communication system to provide precise measurements of planetary rotation.
Mission Details
Within NASA's Discovery Program, InSight is slated for a March 2016 launch date and set to arrive on the surface of Mars in late 2016. It will rely on proven technologies used on NASA's Mars Phoenix mission, and will send a lander to the Martian surface that will spend two years investigating the deep interior of Mars - as well as the processes that not only shaped the Red Planet, but also rocky planets throughout the inner solar system.
InSight Key Dates
Launch: March 2016
Landing: September 2016
Surface operations: 720 days / 700 sols
First science return: October 2016
Instrument deployment: 60 sols (including 20 sols margin)
Data volume over 1 Martian year: More than 29 Gb (processed seismic data posted to the Web in 2 weeks; remaining science data less than 3 months, no proprietary period)
End of Mission: September 18, 2018
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 18.11.2014

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New Mars lander takes shape

The next Mars lander — a platform to drill beneath the surface of the red planet — has begun its assembly phase in preparation for launch in March 2016.
“Reaching this stage that we call ATLO is a critical milestone,” said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
“This is a very satisfying point of the mission as we transition from many teams working on their individual elements to integrating these elements into a functioning system. The subsystems are coming from all over the globe, and the ATLO team works to integrate them into the flight vehicle. We will then move rapidly to rigorous testing when the spacecraft has been assembled, and then to the launch preparations.”
The InSight mission, or Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is being built by using similar hardware to the successful Mars Phoenix lander.
The lander, its aeroshell and cruise stage are being assembled by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver.
“The InSight mission is a mix of tried-and-true and new-and-exciting. The spacecraft has a lot of heritage from Phoenix and even back to the Viking landers, but the science has never been done before at Mars,” said Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “Physically, InSight looks very much like the Phoenix lander we built, but most of the electronic components are similar to what is currently flying on the MAVEN spacecraft.”
Over the next six months, technicians at Lockheed Martin will add subsystems such as avionics, power, telecomm, mechanisms, thermal systems and navigation systems onto the spacecraft. The propulsion system was installed earlier this year on the lander’s main structure.
As a NASA Discovery-class mission, InSight is a terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science: understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system, including Earth, more than four billion years ago.
The craft will be launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Quelle: SN

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Lockheed Martin Begins Final Assembly Of NASA’s Next Mars Lander

DENVER, Nov. 17, 2014 – Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has started the assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase for NASA’s InSight Mars lander spacecraft. The InSight mission will record the first-ever measurements of the interior of the red planet, giving scientists unprecedented detail into the evolution of Mars and other terrestrial planets. InSight is scheduled to launch in March 2016.
A critical stage in the program, ATLO is when assembly of the spacecraft starts, moves through environmental testing and concludes with its launch. Over the next six months, technicians will install subsystems such as avionics, power, telecomm, mechanisms, thermal systems, and guidance, navigation and control. Science instruments will also be delivered by the mission partners to Lockheed Martin for integration with the spacecraft.
In addition to the lander, the spacecraft’s protective aeroshell capsule and cruise stage (which provides communications and power during the journey to Mars) are also undergoing assembly and testing alongside the lander. Once the spacecraft has been fully assembled, it will undergo rigorous environmental testing in the summer of 2015.
“The InSight mission is a mix of tried-and-true and new-and-exciting. The spacecraft has a lot of heritage from Phoenix and even back to the Viking landers, but the science has never been done before at Mars,” said Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “Physically, InSight looks very much like the Phoenix lander we built, but most of the electronic components are similar to what is currently flying on the MAVEN spacecraft.”
InSight stands for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport” and it is more than a Mars mission. This NASA Discovery-class mission is a terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science; understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.
The InSight mission is led by Bruce Banerdt of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The science team includes U.S. and international co-investigators from universities, industry and government agencies. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the French space agency (CNES) are also each contributing an instrument to the two-year scientific mission.
Along with providing an onboard geodetic instrument to determine the planet’s rotation axis, plus a robotic arm and two cameras used to deploy and monitor instruments on the Martian surface, JPL performs project management for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the overall Discovery Program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.
Quelle: Lockheed Martin

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Update: 5.03.2015

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Testing for Instrument Deployment by InSight's Robotic Arm

In the weeks after NASA's InSight mission reaches Mars in September 2016, the lander's arm will lift two key science instruments off the deck and place them onto the ground. This image shows testing of InSight's robotic arm inside a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, about two years before it will perform these tasks on Mars.
InSight -- an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport -- will launch in March 2016. It will study the interior of Mars to improve understanding of the processes that formed and shaped rocky planets, including Earth.
One key instrument that the arm will deploy is the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS. It is from France's national space agency (CNES), with components from Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. In this scene, the arm has just deployed a test model of a protective covering for SEIS, the instrument's wind and thermal shield. The shield's purpose is to lessen disturbances that weather would cause to readings from the sensitive seismometer.
InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program of competitively selected solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages InSight for the NASA Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is building the spacecraft.
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Single Site on Mars Advanced for 2016 NASA Lander
THINGS TO KNOW:
› Launch period -- the first Mars launch from California -- opens March 4, 2016
› The mission will examine Mars' interior to learn how Earth-like planets form and evolve
› Landing-site evaluation has narrowed to one site in Mars' Elysium Planitia
NASA's next mission to Mars, scheduled to launch one year from today to examine the Red Planet's deep interior and investigate how rocky planets like Earth evolved, now has one specific site under evaluation as the best place to land and deploy its science instruments.
The mission called InSight -- an acronym for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport" -- is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The launch period runs from March 4 to March 30, 2016, and will mark the first California launch of an interplanetary mission. Installation of science-instrument hardware onto the spacecraft has begun and a key review has given thumbs up to integration and testing of the mission's component systems from several nations participating in the international project.
The landing-site selection process evaluated four candidate locations selected in 2014. The quartet is within the flat-lying "Elysium Planitia," less than five degrees north of the equator, and all four appear safe for InSight's landing. The single site will continue to be analyzed in coming months for final selection later this year. If unexpected problems with this site are found, one of the others would be imaged and could be selected. The favored site is centered at about four degrees north latitude and 136 degrees east longitude.
"This is wondrous terrain, exactly what we want to land on because it is smooth, flat, with very few rocks in the highest-resolution images," said InSight's site-selection leader, Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Mars orbiters have provided detailed information about the candidate sites, which are mapped as landing ellipses about 81 miles (130 kilometers) west-to-east by about 17 miles (27 kilometers) north-to-south. An ellipse covers the area within which InSight has odds of about 99 percent of landing, if targeted for the ellipse center. Several types of terrain, such as "cratered," "etched" and "smooth" were mapped in each ellipse. The one chosen for final evaluations has highest proportion in the smooth category.
After InSight reaches Mars on Sept. 28, 2016, the mission will assess properties of the planet's crust, mantle and core. The interior of Mars has not been churned as much as Earth's because Mars lacks the tectonic activity that recycles Earth's crustal plates back into the mantle. Thus, Mars offers an opportunity to find clues no longer present on Earth about how rocky planets such as Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury formed and evolved.
InSight's primary science will study the planet's interior, not surface features. Besides safety for the landing, the main site-selection criterion is for the ground within reach of the lander's robotic arm to be penetrable for a heat-flow probe designed to hammer itself into the soil to a depth three to five yards, or meters.
Evidence that the ground will be suitable for the probe, rather than rock solid, comes from assessment by the Thermal Imaging System on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter of how quickly the ground cools at night or warms in sunlight, and evaluation of images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The heat-flow probe is a key part of InSight's Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Electronics for that instrument were the first hardware from the science payload put onto the InSight spacecraft being assembled and tested at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
"As flight components such as the HP3 electronics become available, our team continues to integrate them on the spacecraft and test their functionality," said Stu Spath, InSight spacecraft program manager at Lockheed Martin. "We're steadily marching toward the start of spacecraft environmental testing this spring."
InSight's robotic arm will also place another science instrument onto the ground. This is the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS, from the French Space Agency (CNES), with components from Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A third experiment will use the radio link between InSight and NASA's Deep Space Network antennas on Earth to measure precisely a wobble in Mars' rotation that could reveal whether the planet has a molten or solid core. Wind and temperature sensors from Spain's Center for Astrobiology and a pressure sensor will monitor weather, and a magnetometer will measure magnetic disturbances.
The project passed its System Integration Review in February. "A panel of experts from outside the project reviewed the system-level integration and test program," said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman, of JPL. "For Insight, there are multiple systems being brought together from several countries for final integration and testing in Denver."
InSight and other NASA current and future projects will help inform the journey to Mars, an agency priority to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.
JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
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Finalist Site for Next Landing on Mars

This map shows the single area under continuing evaluation as the InSight mission's Mars landing site, as of a year before the mission's May 2016 launch. The finalist ellipse marked within the northern portion of flat-lying Elysium Planitia is centered at about 4.5 degrees north latitude and 136 degrees east longitude.
InSight -- an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport -- will study the interior of Mars to improve understanding of the processes that formed and shaped rocky planets, including Earth. The mission's launch period begins March 4, 2016, and lasts until late March. Whichever day during that period the launch occurs, landing is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2016.
The landing ellipse on this map covers an area within which the spacecraft has about 99 percent chance of landing when targeted for the center of the ellipse. It is about 81 miles (130 kilometers) long, generally west to east, and about 17 miles (27 kilometers) wide. This ellipse covers the case of a launch at the start of the launch period. If the launch occurs later in the period, orientation of the landing ellipse would shift slightly clockwise.
Four semifinalist sites in Elysium Planitia were evaluated as safe for InSight landing. This one was selected as having the largest proportion of its area classified as smooth terrain. If continuing analysis identifies unexpected problems with this site, another of the semifinalists could be reconsidered before final selection later this year.
The InSight lander will deploy two instruments directly onto the ground using a robotic arm. One is a seismometer contributed by France's space agency (CNES) with components from Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The seismometer will measure microscopic ground motions, providing detailed information about the interior structure of Mars. The other instrument to be deployed by the arm is a heat-flow probe contributed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), designed to hammer itself three to five meters (about 10 to 16 feet) deep. It will monitor heat coming from the planet's interior. The mission will also track the lander's radio to measure wobbles in the planet's rotation that relate to the size of its core. A suite of environmental sensors will monitor the weather and variations in the magnetic field.
The base map is a mosaic of daytime thermal images from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. THEMIS was developed and is operated by Arizona State University, Tempe.
InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program of competitively selected solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages InSight and Odyssey for the NASA Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the Odyssey orbiter and is building the InSight spacecraft.
Quelle: NASA

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A New Impact Crater Near NASA's InSight Landing Region

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 in September 2016 to study its deep interior. 
InSight needs seismic signals, and one sure way to get them is from the impact of bolides onto Mars. InSight can detect large impacts that are far from the lander and smaller impacts that are closer. 
This recent HiRISE image, acquired to certify a landing site for the mission, shows a distinctive crater with a very sharp rim and ejecta that is darker and bluer than almost all of this dust-covered region. This must be a very recent impact because there hasn't been sufficient time for atmospheric dust to settle over this spot and re-brighten the surface.
In fact, previous images suggest it formed between 2008 and 2012. This illustrates the type of feature that orbiting cameras will search for during the InSight mission, to attempt to correlate seismic signals to the point of origin.
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 28.05.2015

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NASA Begins Testing Mars Lander in Preparation for Next Mission to Red Planet
Testing is underway on NASA’s next mission on the journey to Mars, a stationary lander scheduled to launch in March 2016.
The lander is called InSight, an abbreviation for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. It is about the size of a car and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the interior structure of the Red Planet. Examining the planet's deep interior could reveal clues about how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.
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Engineers and technicians at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, run a test of deploying the solar arrays on NASA's InSight lander. Photo taken April 30, 2015.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin
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The current testing will help ensure InSight can operate in and survive deep space travel and the harsh conditions of the Martian surface. The spacecraft will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and land on Mars about six months later.
The technical capabilities and knowledge gained from Insight, and other Mars missions, are crucial to NASA's journey to Mars, which includes sending astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s.
"Today, our robotic scientific explorers are paving the way, making great progress on the journey to Mars," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Together, humans and robotics will pioneer Mars and the solar system."
During the environmental testing phase at Lockheed Martin's Space Systems facility near Denver, the lander will be exposed to extreme temperatures, vacuum conditions of nearly zero air pressure simulating interplanetary space, and a battery of other tests over the next seven months. The first will be a thermal vacuum test in the spacecraft's "cruise" configuration, which will be used during its seven-month journey to Mars. In the cruise configuration, the lander is stowed inside an aeroshell capsule and the spacecraft's cruise stage – for power, communications, course corrections and other functions on the way to Mars -- is fastened to the capsule.
"The assembly of InSight went very well and now it's time to see how it performs," said Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver. "The environmental testing regimen is designed to wring out any issues with the spacecraft so we can resolve them while it's here on Earth. This phase takes nearly as long as assembly, but we want to make sure we deliver a vehicle to NASA that will perform as expected in extreme environments."
Other tests include vibrations simulating launch and checking for electronic interference between different parts of the spacecraft.  The testing phase concludes with a second thermal vacuum test in which the spacecraft is exposed to the temperatures and atmospheric pressures it will experience as it operates on the Martian surface.
The mission's science team includes U.S. and international co-investigators from universities, industry and government agencies.
"It's great to see the spacecraft put together in its launch configuration," said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California. "Many teams from across the globe have worked long hours to get their elements of the system delivered for these tests. There still remains much work to do before we are ready for launch, but it is fantastic to get to this critical milestone."
 
The InSight mission is led by JPL's Bruce Banerdt. The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, France’s space agency, and the German Aerospace Center are each contributing a science instrument to the two-year scientific mission. InSight's international science team includes researchers from Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company built the lander.
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The solar arrays on NASA's InSight lander are deployed in this April 30 test inside a clean room. This configuration is how the spacecraft will look on the surface of Mars.
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The Mars lander that NASA's InSight mission will use for investigating how rocky planets formed and evolved is being assembled by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.  In this scene from January 2015, Lockheed Martin spacecraft specialists are working on the lander in a clean room.
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Spacecraft specialists in a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, are working on NASA's InSight spacecraft in this January 2015 scene from the mission's assembly and testing phase. 
At center is the cruise stage, which will serve multiple functions during the flight from Earth to Mars. In the background is the InSight lander. 
InSight, for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will investigate the deep interior of Mars to gain information about how rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.  The mission is scheduled for launch from California in March 2016 and landing on Mars in September 2016.
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In this February 2015 scene from a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, specialists are building the heat shield to protect NASA's InSight spacecraft when it is speeding through the Martian atmosphere.
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This parachute testing for NASA's InSight mission to Mars was conducted inside the world's largest wind tunnel, at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, in February 2015.
The wind tunnel is 80 feet (24 meters) tall and 120 feet (37 meters) wide. It is part of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex, operated by the Arnold Engineering Development Center of the U.S. Air Force.
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In this photo, the back shell of NASA's InSight spacecraft is being lowered onto the mission's lander, which is folded into its stowed configuration.  The back shell and a heat shield form the aeroshell, which will protect the lander as the spacecraft plunges into the upper atmosphere of Mars.  The photo was taken on April 29, 2015, in a spacecraft assembly clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
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Spacecraft specialists at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, are preparing to attach the cruise stage of NASA's InSight spacecraft to the top of the spacecraft's back shell in this April 29, 2015, photo.
The cruise stage will serve multiple functions during the flight from Earth to Mars. It has its own solar arrays, thrusters and radio antennas.  It will be jettisoned shortly before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere.
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This photo shows the upper side of the cruise stage of NASA's InSight spacecraft as specialists at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, attach it to the spacecraft's back shell.  The photo was taken on April 29, 2015.
The cruise stage will serve multiple functions during the flight from Earth to Mars. It has its own solar arrays, thrusters and radio antennas.  It will be jettisoned shortly before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere.
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In this photo, spacecraft specialists at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, are reaching up to guide lowering of the parachute cone for installation onto NASA's InSight spacecraft. The photo was taken on April 29, 2015.
InSight's parachute, stowed inside the cone, will provide deceleration in the Martian atmosphere. Its role will come after atmospheric friction with the spacecraft's heat shield provides initial deceleration and before thrusters on the lander provide final deceleration.
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The science deck of NASA's InSight lander is being turned over in this April 29, 2015, photo from InSight assembly and testing operations inside a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.  The large circular component on the deck is the protective covering to be placed over InSight's seismometer after the seismometer is placed directly onto the Martian ground.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 28.07.2015
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NASA Mars Orbiter Preparing for Mars Lander's 2016 Arrival

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passes above a portion of the planet called Nilosyrtis Mensae in this artist's concept illustration.
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With its biggest orbit maneuver since 2006, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will prepare this week for the arrival of NASA's next Mars lander, InSight, next year.
A planned 77-second firing of six intermediate-size thrusters on July 29 will adjust the orbit timing of the veteran spacecraft so it will be in position to receive radio transmissions from InSight as the newcomer descends through the Martian atmosphere and touches down on Sept. 28, 2016. These six rocket engines, which were used for trajectory corrections during the spacecraft's flight from Earth to Mars, can each produce about 22 newtons, or five pounds, of thrust.
"Without making this orbit change maneuver, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter would be unable to hear from InSight during the landing, but this will put us in the right place at the right time," said MRO Project Manager Dan Johnston of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
The orbiter will record InSight's transmissions for later playback to Earth as a record of each event during the critical minutes of InSight's arrival at Mars, just as MRO did for the landings of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover three years ago, and NASA's Phoenix Mars lander in 2008.
InSight will examine the deep interior of Mars for clues about the formation and early evolution of all rocky planets, including Earth.
MRO will continue its studies of Mars while preparing for the InSight arrival. MRO collects high-resolution imaging and spectral data, as well as atmospheric and sub-surface profiles. It has returned several times more data about the Red Planet than all other deep-space missions combined. It will also continue providing communication relay support for Mars rovers and making observations for analysis of candidate landing sites for future missions.
After the InSight landing, plans call for MRO to perform a pair of even larger maneuvers in October 2016 and April 2017 -- each using the six intermediate-size thrusters longer than three minutes. These will return it to the orbit timing it has used since 2006, crossing the equator at about 3 a.m. and 3 p.m., local solar time, during each near-polar loop around the planet. To observe the InSight arrival, MRO will be in an orbit that crosses the equator at about 2:30 p.m. local solar mean time.
The last time the mission performed a maneuver larger than this week's was on November 15, 2006. That maneuver fired the intermediate-size thrusters for 76 seconds to establish the original 3 p.m. Local Mean Solar Time (LMST) sun-synchronous condition after a six-month period of using dips into the upper atmosphere to alter the orbit's shape. The spacecraft has three sets of thrusters. It used its most powerful set -- six thrusters, each with 170 newtons, or 39 pounds of force -- for about 27 minutes to first enter orbit when it arrived at Mars on March 10, 2006. It uses eight smaller thrusters most frequently, for small adjustments to course or orientation.
Even after the planned 2017 maneuver, the spacecraft's remaining supply of hydrazine propellant is projected to be more than 413 pounds (about 187 kilograms), equivalent to about 19 years of consumption in normal operations.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 18.12.2015
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Mars Spacecraft Shipped to California for March Launch

A crate containing NASA's Mars-bound InSight spacecraft is loaded into a C-17 cargo aircraft at Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, was shipped Dec. 16, 2015, for launch in March 2016.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin
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Mission Status Report
NASA's next Mars spacecraft has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for final preparations before a launch scheduled in March 2016 and a landing on Mars six months later.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built and tested the spacecraft and delivered it on Dec. 16 from Buckley Air Force Base in Denver to Vandenberg, on the central California Coast.
Preparations are on a tight schedule for launch during the period March 4 through March 30. The work ahead includes installation and testing of one of the mission's key science instruments, its seismometer, which is scheduled for delivery to Vandenberg in January.
"InSight has traveled the first leg of its journey, getting from Colorado to California, and we're on track to start the next leg, to Mars, with a launch in March," said InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
The seismometer, provided by France's national space agency (CNES), includes a vacuum container around its three main sensors. Maintaining the vacuum is necessary for the instrument's extremely high sensitivity; the seismometer is capable of measuring ground motions as small as the width of an atom. A vacuum leak detected during testing of the seismometer was repaired last week in France and is undergoing further testing.
InSight's heat-probe instrument from Germany's space agency (DLR), the lander's robotic arm and the rest of the payload are already installed on the spacecraft.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport, is the first Mars mission dedicated to studying the deep interior of the Red Planet. This Mars lander's findings will advance understanding about the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including Earth.
One of the newest additions installed on the InSight lander is a microchip bearing the names of about 827,000 people worldwide who participated in an online "send your name to Mars" activity in August and September 2015.
InSight will be the first mission to Mars ever launched from California. The mission is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
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A spacecraft specialist in a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, where the InSight lander is being built, affixes a dime-size chip onto the lander deck in November 2015. This signature chip carries 826,923 names, submitted by the public online from all over the world.
The dime-size microchip in this close-up image carries 826,923 names that will go to Mars on NASA's InSight lander in 2016. The image was taken inside a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, where the lander was built.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 23.12.2015
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NASA holds up InSight lander mission to Mars due to leaky seismic instrument

 

NASA says it’s putting off next year’s scheduled launch of its InSight lander mission to Mars until at least 2018, due to a persistent leak in the spacecraft’s main seismic-sensing instrument.
Mission managers had been working for months to track down a series of small leaks in the vacuum seal for the instrument, known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS. The instrument was being built and tested for NASA under the direction of France’s space agency, the Centre Nationale d’Etudes Spatiales, or CNES.
Up until Monday, managers had high hopes they could fix all the leaks in time for next March’s liftoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. But the results from a low-temperature vacuum test at a facility near Paris were so discouraging that they scratched the launch off the schedule.
“It’s a very close decision,” Marc Pircher, director of CNES’ Toulouse Space Center, told reporters during a teleconference.
SEIS is one of the two key instruments for the InSight mission, which is aimed at monitoring seismic activity deep beneath the Red Planet’s surface. “InSight” is a quasi-acronym, standing for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. The other instrument is the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, a German-built probe that’s designed to burrow up to 16 feet (5 meters) underground.
The SEIS instrument’s three main sensors are designed to measure movements as small as the diameter of an atom. But the sensors have to be enclosed within a vacuum-sealed sphere that insulates them from Mars’ harsh conditions. Vacuum chamber tests in France showed that the sphere couldn’t hold a seal under Mars-like conditions.
Pircher was confident that the leak can be fixed. “It’s a question of a few months,” he said. However, because of the orbital mechanics for flights between Earth and Mars, affordable launch opportunities come around only every 26 months.
2016’s opportunity extended from March 4 to March 30. The negative results from Monday’s test led NASA and CNES to conclude that they ran out of time for 2016’s opportunity. The next one comes in May 2018, said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science. “The 2018 opportunity is actually energetically more favorable, so it might mean a little bit wider launch window and opportunities for us,” he said.
Grunsfeld said InSight’s science mission would have been ruined if SEIS had been sent in its current condition. “In some sense, we don’t have a decision to make, because we’re not ready to go,” he said. “In another sense, I think it’s much better that we have this discussion now, rather than send it to Mars and wishing we had the opportunity here on Earth to fix something.”
He said that NASA would weigh its options in the coming weeks. The space agency hasn’t yet committed itself to a launch in 2018, but the preferred path was clearly to go with a postponement rather than cancellation. “I see this as a minor setback rather than a disaster,” said InSight’s principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It’s not a disaster. It’s just a hiccup on our path to getting this kind of science, and this kind of understanding of our solar system and our place in the universe.”
It’s not the first time such a setback has delayed a Mars mission: NASA’s launch of the Curiosity rover mission, also known as Mars Science Laboratory, had to be postponed two years due to technical difficulties. That added hundreds of millions of dollars to the mission cost, boosting the total price tag to $2.5 billion.
Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said the total mission cost for InSight was budgeted at $675 million. So far, $525 million has been spent, he said. Green said it was too early to estimate the effect of the two-year delay on mission cost.
While work continues to fix the leak in the SEIS instrument, the car-sized InSight spacecraft will be returned to its Colorado-based manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, for storage.
Grunsfeld said InSight is a “stand-alone Discovery mission” that does not affect the tempo for sending other spacecraft to the Red Planet, leading up to potential human journeys to Mars and its moons in the 2030s. The European Space Agency is still on track to launch its ExoMars orbiter next March, and will send out an ExoMars rover in 2018. Meanwhile, NASA is readying yet another rover for launch to Mars in 2020.
Quelle: GeekWire
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Update: 6.03.2016
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Fate of NASA’s InSight Mars mission to be decided soon
NASA is close to deciding whether to spend an extra $150 million to send the InSight lander to Mars in 2018 or cancel the mission after an instrument problem made the spacecraft miss a launch opportunity this year, with a verdict on the project’s future expected within weeks, officials said.
Originally intended to launch this week, the InSight mission is designed to probe the interior of Mars and detect seismic tremors after touching down in Elysium Planitia, a relatively flat, smooth plain near the Martian equator.
But one of the lander’s two primary instruments — a French-built seismometer — was not ready in time for a launch window that opened March 4 and extended to March 30.
The technical issue stemmed from recurring problems with a vacuum enclosure surrounding the seismometer’s sensitive detectors. A last-ditch effort to fix the problem and make the chamber airtight failed in December, prompting NASA officials to suspend preparations to launch InSight this year.
The other major components of the InSight mission, including the Lockheed Martin spacecraft, a German-built heat probe and a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 launcher, were delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and ready for this month’s launch opportunity.
The InSight spacecraft has been returned to Lockheed Martin’s factory in Colorado, and ULA plans to use the Atlas 5 rocket originally assigned to the InSight mission for the September launch of the WorldView 4 Earth imaging satellite from Vandenberg.
Launch windows for Mars missions occur every 26 months or so, when the planets are in the right positions in the solar systems to allow a direct shot from Earth to Mars.
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The InSight lander entering thermal vacuum testing in its cruise stage configuration at Lockheed Martin. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin
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“The launch window for InSight was to open this month,” said Jim Green, head of NASA’s planetary science division, in a March 2 meeting of Mars scientists. “Because of a very late delivery of an instrument, we recognized that we weren’t going to be able to make it, so we’ve had to step back and begin to re-analyze what are our next steps.”
The options are attempting to resolve the problem with the seismometer’s vacuum chamber in time for a launch window in 2018, or canceling the InSight mission.
InSight mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory submitted a new plan to NASA leadership March 1 to launch the spacecraft in the next Mars launch opportunity, which opens May 5, 2018.
Green said officials at NASA Headquarters in Washington are now reviewing the plan.
“We haven’t completed that process, but we are well on our way, and perhaps we’ll be able to announce what our next steps are for InSight within this next week or so,” Green said March 2.
Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator at JPL, said the project needs about $150 million to overcome the instrument problem and get ready for a May 2018 launch.
That money would come from other NASA programs, he said, not from the French space agency CNES, which is in charge of the seismometer contribution to InSight.
NASA approved the InSight mission in 2012, selecting the Mars lander over proposals to dispatch a floating scientific station to a hydrocarbon ocean on Saturn’s moon Titan and a probe to land on a comet.
InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery program, a series of cost-constrained missions exploring the solar system. The Dawn mission currently at the dwarf planet Ceres, and the Messenger orbiter that surveyed Mercury from 2011 until last year are two examples of successful Discovery-class projects.
As of December, NASA had spent $525 million on the InSight project, which has a cost cap of $675 million, a figure that includes the launch and mission operations on Mars.
Extra funding for the InSight mission, if the launch goes ahead in 2018, could stand in the way of NASA’s plan to select up to two new interplanetary probes later this year for launches in 2021.
Scientists have submitted proposals for the next Discovery-class solar system mission, and NASA picked five finalists last year for further scrutiny.
In a change from previous practice with Discovery mission selections, the space agency says it could pick two of the five candidates to proceed toward launch.
The finalists include two missions to Venus — an atmospheric entry probe and a radar-equipped orbiter — and three proposals to study asteroids.
NASA officials say the agency’s budget may only allow for the selection of one of the candidate missions if InSight needs more funding to launch in 2018.
Quelle: SN
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Update: 9.03.2016
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NASA Targets May 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission 

 
NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. This artist's concept depicts the InSight lander on Mars after the lander's robotic arm has deployed a seismometer and a heat probe directly onto the ground. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. The findings will advance understanding of how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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