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Forum:Satellites - Robotic Probes
Topic:InSight to Mars: Viewing, questions, comments
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BlackarrowSeriously? Sixth lander in a row which ISN'T designed to look for signs of life? This one even seems to have the ability to dig down a respectable distance to escape the ultraviolet "death zone." To use what I believe to be the American vernacular: "Way to skirt around the big question!"
Robert PearlmanMy guess, and it's just that, is that the tools needed to definitively answer the life question are too expensive to fit within a cost-capped Discovery-class mission.

On edit: To put the budget into some perspective, per NASA, the InSight mission cannot afford to fly a color camera, if only for outreach reasons. The lander will only have two black and white engineering cameras, similar in resolution quality and field of view to Spirit's and Opportunity's NavCam and HazCam.

Fra MauroInteresting choice. I like the mission but I wonder if one reason it was chosen was to quell the critics that the Administration is shutting down the Mars program. Do we know which choices lost out? It's been awhile since we have been to Venus.
Robert PearlmanAs the press release notes:
The other two proposals were for missions to a comet and Saturn's moon Titan.
Specifically, the missions were Comet Hopper (CHopper), which would have studied the evolution of 46P/Wirtanen by landing on the comet multiple times and observing its changes as it interacts with the sun, and Titan Mare Explorer (TiME), which would have provided the first direct exploration of an ocean environment beyond Earth by landing in, and floating on, a large methane-ethane sea on Saturn's moon Titan.

John Grunsfeld said yesterday that InSight was chosen over the other two because it was thought to have the best chance of keeping to the $425 million budget and making its launch date in 2016.

BlackarrowI'm going to make a prediction: it will get a colour camera. NASA has learnt its PR lessons.
Gorgon
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
I'm going to make a prediction: it will get a colour camera. NASA has learnt its PR lessons.
Well, for the general public, InSight won't have much of an impact, color pics or not. Most people will just think "yet ANOTHER one to Mars? Stop wasting my taxes".

I think TiME was a much better choice. Far more PR impact for average Joe for about the same cost (alien oceans!!!), while having the benefit of keeping research into Titan alive. InSight could have flown later in this decade and no one would loose anything, while the window of opportunity for Titan for about US500 million is now lost for next 20 years or so.

Anyway, don't want to hijack this thread for ranting.

Blackarrow
quote:
Originally posted by Gorgon:
InSight could have flown later in this decade and no one would lose anything, while the window of opportunity for Titan for about US500 million is now lost for next 20 years or so.
Why? Something to do with orbital mechanics?
GorgonIn a way, yes. The thing is that if we launched in the present time window TiME would not need a data relay orbiter because it would be able to communicate directly with Earth for a few hours. It would be a short mission like Huygens but it would be within US500 million. If we launch it in the next 20 years or so we could make it last for years but we would need the orbiter, making it 2 or 3 times more expensive. This last option means great science but it also means that we probably will never see it fly, given NASA's "obsession" with Mars right now and the significantly higher budget needed.

InSight is a great mission with great scientific interest, no doubt, but it could have been flown at any time we want for the same price, thus in my opinion it was the wrong decision.

You can more details here (it's a really nice blog, by the way).

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