A Curiosity Companion?!

Mars, the Red Planet: Home of Curiosity and soon-to-be InSight?

InSight

10 days after Curiosity’s successful landing, the U.S. space embassy ordered another Mars mission in 2016 to examine below Mars’ surface. Researchers want to examine Mars’ seismic activities— to see if Mars has fault lines like Earth and what of “marsquakes” are there. The InSight Mission (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will launch in March 2016. The budget for the mission is $425 million, not including the cost of the launch vehicle. JPL and the team of engineers and scientists who built Curiosity will build InSight, set to be Curiosity’s companion. InSight will harbor a French built seismometer and solar panels. One of InSight’s four instruments, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties (HP3), will crack through the surface using a 14-inch “hollowed-out electromechanically- festooned stake” called the Tractor Mole. The Mole will descend 16 feet below the planet’s surface. Its thermal senors will also measure the temperature of Mars’ interior to learn about the planet’s thermal temperature. The mission of InSight will be to analyze Mars’ core to learn about the early formation of rocky bodies like Earth. InSight will determine the core’s size and composition and whether it’s solid or liquid. It will take InSight 6 months to reach Mars (will land in September 2016) and a full Martian year (680 Earth days) to gather data.

References

Dunn, Marcia. “NASA plans to sent next rover to Mars in 2016.” Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay Times, 21 Aug 2012. Web. 21 Aug 2012.

Kolawoe, Emi. “New Mars mission InSight scheduled for 2016, will explore planet’s interior.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 21 Aug 2012. Web. 21 Aug 2012.

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