NASA Approves 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
September 2, 2016
NASA is moving forward with a spring 2018 launch of its InSight mission
to study the deep interior of Mars, following final approval this week
by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.
The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat
Transport (InSight) mission was originally scheduled to launch in March
of this year, but NASA suspended launch preparations in December due to
a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument, the Seismic Experiment
for Interior Structure (SEIS).
The new launch period for the mission begins May 5, 2018, with a Mars
landing scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018. The next launch opportunity is driven
by orbital dynamics, so 2018 is the soonest the lander can be on its way.
"Our robotic scientific explorers such as InSight are paving the way toward
an ambitious journey to send humans to the Red Planet," said Geoff Yoder,
acting associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate,
in Washington. "It's gratifying that we are moving forward with this important
mission to help us better understand the origins of Mars and all the rocky
planets, including Earth."
The SEIS instrument -- designed to measure ground movements as small as
half the radius of a hydrogen atom -- requires a perfect vacuum seal around
its three main sensors in order to withstand harsh conditions on the Red
Planet. Under what's known as the mission "replan," NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will be responsible for redesigning,
developing and qualifying the instrument's evacuated container and the
electrical feedthroughs that failed previously. France's space agency,
the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), will focus on developing
and delivering the key sensors for SEIS, integration of the sensors into
the container, and the final integration of the instrument onto the spacecraft.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is contributing the Heat Flow and Physical
Properties Package (HP3) to InSight's science payload.
NASA's budget for InSight was $675 million. The instrument redesign and
two-year delay add $153.8 million. The additional cost will not delay
or cancel any current missions, though there may be fewer opportunities
for new missions in future years, from fiscal years 2017-2020.
InSight's primary goal is to help us understand how rocky planets formed
and evolved. Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division,
said, "We've concluded that a replanned InSight mission for launch in
2018 is the best approach to fulfill these long-sought, high-priority
CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall added, "This confirmation of the launch
plan for InSight is excellent news and an unparalleled opportunity to
learn more about the internal structure of the Red Planet, which is currently
of major interest to the international science community."
The InSight Project is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate,
Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft.
InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, which is managed by NASA's
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.br...@nasa.gov / laura.l.canti...@nasa.gov
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