NASA’s Mars InSight mission delayed until 2018 owing to a vacuum leak

10 March 2016, 12:26 PM

NASA on Wednesday announced that it has rescheduled it's next unmanned mission to Mars to 2018 owing to a vacuum leak in the prime science instrument of the lander. The space agency had earlier planned to launch the Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission this month.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is managing the entire mission which is also set to redesign and build a new enclosure. The space agency has been quite curious about gaining more and more knowledge about the red planet’s texture and evolution.

NASA on Wednesday announced that it has rescheduled it's next unmanned mission to Mars to 2018 owing to a vacuum leak in the prime science instrument of the lander. The space agency had earlier planned to launch the Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission this month.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is managing the entire mission which is also set to redesign and build a new enclosure. The space agency has been quite curious about gaining more and more knowledge about the red planet’s texture and evolution.

The InSight mission’s goal is to analyze the deep interior of Mars and determine how ‘rocky planets’ including Earth formed and evolved. According to NASA, this mission is scheduling a new expected launch window beginning May 5, 2018.

This is considered one of the most awaited space projects of NASA to gain more information about the texture and evolution of the red planet. CNES, the French space agency, is in charge of the seismic instrument that turned troublesome

The mission will help to determine the state of the red planet, whether its liquid or solid and why its surface is not made of moving tectonic plates like Earth. While understanding the interiors of Mars has been a long quest for planetary scientists.

The delay due to the vacuum leak is better explained here- the seismometer, provided by Frances’ space agency, designed to measure ground movements as small as the diametre of an atom requires a vacuum seal around its three main sensors to withstand the harsh conditions of the Martian environment.

NASA also said that the cost of the two-year delay is being assessed with an estimate expected in August. The total cost of the mission was budgeted at $675 million (roughly Rs. 4,534 crores), of which $525 million (roughly Rs. 3,527 crores) had been spent by December 2015, going by NASA estimates.

US space agency is currently working on three Mars missions with European Space Agency and also plans to send another rover to the red planet in 2020. A manned mission to Mars is set for the 2030s.

First Published: Thursday, March 10, 2016 12:03 [IST]
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