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Inside Cleanroom Where NASA’s New Mars Lander Waiting To Launch
NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (Insight) mission to study the deep interior of Mars is targeting a new launch window that begins on May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled for the year November 26th, 2018.
Insight’s primary goal is to help us to understand the rocky planets including Earth that is forming and evolving. The spacecraft has on track to launch this month until a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument prompted NASA in December to suspend preparations for launch.
Insight project managers recently briefly officials at NASA and France’s space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), on a path forward; the proposed plan to redesign the science instrument accepted in support of the year 2018 launch.
“The science goals of Insight are compelling, and the NASA and CNES plan to overcome the technical challenges that sound, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. A quest to understanding the interior of Mars has a longstanding goal of planetary scientists for decades. We are excited to be back on the path to launch, now in the year 2018.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will redesign, build and conduct qualifications of the new vacuum enclosure for the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), the component that failed in December.
The CNES is first instrument level integration and test activities, allowing the Insight Project to take advantage of each organization’s proven strengths. The two agencies have to work closely together to establish a project schedule that accommodates these plans and scheduled interim reviews over the next six months to assess technical progress and continued feasibility.
The amount of two-year delay has assessed. An estimate is expected in August, once arrangements with the launch vehicle provider have made.
The seismometer instrument’s main sensors need to operate within a vacuum chamber to provide the required exquisite sensitivity of measure the ground movements as small as a half radius of a hydrogen atom.
The reworking of seismometer’s vacuum container will result in a finishing, thoroughly tested instrument in the year 2017 that is maintain a high degree of vacuum around the sensors through rigors of launch, landing, deployment and a two-year prime mission on the surface of Mars.
The Insight mission was drawing upon a robust international partnership through the Principal Investigator Bruce Barnard. Lander’s Heat Flow and Physical Properties Packaging is providing the German Aerospace Centre. This problem will hammer itself to a depth of about 16 feet (5 meters) into the ground beside the lander.
SEIS is building with the participation of Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, to support from the Swiss Space Office and the European Space Agency PRODEX program; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, supported by DLR; Imperial College, sponsored through United Kingdom Space Agency.
“The sharing and renewing commit to this mission continue the collaborate to find clues in the heart of Mars. In the early evolution of our solar system,” said Marc Pircher, director of CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre.
The mission’s international science team such as researchers in places like Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
The managing Insight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Insight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, administered by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville.
Insight spacecraft, such as cruise stage and lander is made tested by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. It was delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in December 2015 in preparation for launch, and returning to Lockheed Martin’s Colorado facility last month for storage until spacecraft preparations resume in 2017.
NASA is an ambitious journey to Mars that includes sending humans to the Red Planet, and that work remains on track. Robotic spacecraft is leading the way for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover designing and building.
The Opportunity and Curiosity rovers exploring Martian surface, Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The spacecraft is currently orbiting the planet along with the Mars Atmosphere, and Volatile Evolution Mission orbiter is helping scientists understand what happened to the Martian atmosphere.
NASA and CNES also are participating in ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Mars Express mission currently operating at Mars. NASA is participating in ESA’s 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions providing telecommunication radios for ESA’s 2016 orbiter and a critical element of a crucial astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover.
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