Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Satellites - Robotic Probes
  NASA's InSight lander to probe into Mars in 2016

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   NASA's InSight lander to probe into Mars in 2016
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27620
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-20-2012 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
InSight lander to probe into Mars in 2016

InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior. But InSight is more than a Mars mission — it is a terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science — understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.

By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars, detecting the fingerprints of the processes of terrestrial planet formation, as well as measuring the planet's "vital signs": Its "pulse" (seismology), "temperature" (heat flow probe), and "reflexes" (precision tracking).

Why Mars?

Previous missions to Mars have investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil, but no one has attempted to investigate the planet's earliest evolution — its building blocks — which can only be found by looking far below the surface.

Because Mars has been less geologically active than the Earth (for example, it does not have plate tectonics), it actually retains a more complete record of its history in its own basic planetary building blocks: its core, mantle and crust.

By studying the size, thickness, density and overall structure of the Red Planet's core, mantle and crust, as well as the rate at which heat escapes from the planet's interior, the InSight mission will provide glimpses into the evolutionary processes of all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.

In terms of fundamental processes that shape planetary formation, Mars is a veritable "Goldilocks" planet, because it is big enough to have undergone the earliest internal heating and differentiation (separation of the crust, mantle and core) processes that shaped the terrestrial planets (Earth, Venus, Mercury, Moon), but small enough to have retained the signature of those processes over the next four billion years. Within its own structural signature, Mars may contain the most in-depth and accurate record in the solar system of these processes.

The InSight mission will follow the legacy of NASA's Mars Phoenix mission and send a lander to Mars, which will delve deeper into the surface than any other spacecraft - to investigate the planet's structure and composition as well as its tectonic activity as it relates to all terrestrial planets, including Earth.

Objectives

The InSight mission will seek to understand the evolutionary formation of rocky planets, including Earth, by investigating the interior structure and processes of Mars. InSight will also investigate the dynamics of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, which could offer clues about such phenomena on Earth.

Spacecraft and Payload

The InSight mission is similar in design to the Mars lander that the Phoenix mission used successfully in 2007 to study ground ice near the north pole of Mars. The reuse of this technology, developed and built by Lockheed-Martin Space Systems in Denver, CO, will provide a low-risk path to Mars without the added cost of designing and testing a new system from scratch.

The InSight lander will be equipped with two science instruments that will conduct the first "check-up" of Mars in more than 4.5 billion years, measuring its "pulse", or internal activity; its temperature; and its "reflexes" (the way the planet wobbles when it is pulled by the Sun and its moons). Scientists will be able to interpret this data to understand the planet's history, its interior structure and activity, and the forces that shaped rocky planet formation in the inner solar system.

The science payload is comprised of two instruments: the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), provided by the French Space Agency (CNES), with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Imperial College and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), provided by the German Space Agency (DLR).

In addition, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE), led by JPL, will use the spacecraft communication system to provide precise measurements of planetary rotation.

Mission Details

InSight is slated for a March 2016 launch date and set to arrive on the surface of Mars in late 2016. It will rely on proven technologies used on NASA's Mars Phoenix mission, and will send a lander to the Martian surface that will spend two years investigating the deep interior of Mars — as well as the processes that not only shaped the Red Planet, but also rocky planets throughout the inner solar system.

InSight Key Dates

  • Launch: March 8 - March 27, 2016
  • Landing: September 20, 2016
  • Surface operations: 720 days / 700 sols
  • First science return: October 2016
  • Instrument deployment: 60 sols (including 20 sols margin)
  • Data volume over 1 Martian year: More than 29 Gb (processed seismic data posted to the web in 2 weeks; remaining science data less than 3 months, no proprietary period)
  • End of Mission: September 18, 2018
See here for discussion of NASA's InSight mission to drill into Mars.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27620
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-20-2012 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA mission to take first look deep inside Mars

NASA has selected a new mission, set to launch in 2016, that will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars to see why the Red Planet evolved so differently from Earth as one of our solar system's rocky planets.

The new mission, named InSight, will place instruments on the Martian surface to investigate whether the core of Mars is solid or liquid like Earth's and why Mars' crust is not divided into tectonic plates that drift like Earth's. Detailed knowledge of the interior of Mars in comparison to Earth will help scientists understand better how terrestrial planets form and evolve.

"The exploration of Mars is a top priority for NASA, and the selection of InSight ensures we will continue to unlock the mysteries of the Red Planet and lay the groundwork for a future human mission there," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The recent successful landing of the Curiosity rover has galvanized public interest in space exploration and today's announcement makes clear there are more exciting Mars missions to come."

InSight will be led by W. Bruce Banerdt at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. InSight's science team includes U.S. and international co-investigators from universities, industry and government agencies. The French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, or CNES, and the German Aerospace Center, or DLR, are contributing instruments to InSight, which is scheduled to land on Mars in September 2016 to begin its two-year scientific mission.

InSight is the 12th selection in NASA's series of Discovery-class missions. Created in 1992, the Discovery Program sponsors frequent, cost-capped solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. NASA requested Discovery mission proposals in June 2010 and received 28. InSight was one of three proposed missions selected in May 2011 for funding to conduct preliminary design studies and analyses. The other two proposals were for missions to a comet and Saturn's moon Titan.

InSight builds on spacecraft technology used in NASA's highly successful Phoenix lander mission, which was launched to the Red Planet in 2007 and determined water existed near the surface in the Martian polar regions. By incorporating proven systems in the mission, the InSight team demonstrated that the mission concept was low-risk and could stay within the cost-constrained budget of Discovery missions. The cost of the mission, excluding the launch vehicle and related services, is capped at $425 million in 2010 dollars.

"Our Discovery Program enables scientists to use innovative approaches to answering fundamental questions about our solar system in the lowest cost mission category," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "InSight will get to the 'core' of the nature of the interior and structure of Mars, well below the observations we've been able to make from orbit or the surface."

InSight will carry four instruments. JPL will provide an onboard geodetic instrument to determine the planet's rotation axis and a robotic arm and two cameras used to deploy and monitor instruments on the Martian surface. CNES is leading an international consortium that is building an instrument to measure seismic waves traveling through the planet's interior. The German Aerospace Center is building a subsurface heat probe to measure the flow of heat from the interior.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Discovery Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27620
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-04-2013 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Evaluates Four Candidate Sites for 2016 Mars Mission

NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential landing sites for the agency's next mission to the surface of Mars, a 2016 lander to study the planet's interior.

The stationary Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander is scheduled to launch in March 2016 and land on Mars six months later. It will touch down at one of four sites selected in August from a field of 22 candidates. All four semi-finalist spots lie near each other on an equatorial plain in an area of Mars called Elysium Planitia.

"We picked four sites that look safest," said geologist Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. Golombek is leading the site-selection process for InSight. "They have mostly smooth terrain, few rocks and very little slope."

Scientists will focus two of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter cameras on the semi-finalists in the coming months to gain data they will use to select the best of the four sites well before InSight is launched.

The mission will investigate processes that formed and shaped Mars and will help scientists better understand the evolution of our inner solar system's rocky planets, including Earth. Unlike previous Mars landings, what is on the surface in the area matters little in the choice of a site except for safety considerations.

"This mission's science goals are not related to any specific location on Mars because we're studying the planet as a whole, down to its core," said Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at JPL. "Mission safety and survival are what drive our criteria for a landing site."

Each semifinalist site is an ellipse measuring 81 miles (130 kilometers) from east to west and 17 miles (27 kilometers) from north to south. Engineers calculate the spacecraft will have a 99-percent chance of landing within that ellipse, if targeted for the center.

Elysium is one of three areas on Mars that meet two basic engineering constraints for InSight. One requirement is being close enough to the equator for the lander's solar array to have adequate power at all times of the year. Also, the elevation must be low enough to have sufficient atmosphere above the site for a safe landing. The spacecraft will use the atmosphere for deceleration during descent.

All four semifinalist sites, as well as the rest of the 22 of the candidate sites studied, are in Elysium Planitia. The only other two areas of Mars meeting the requirements of being near the equator at low elevation, Isidis Planitia and Valles Marineris, are too rocky and windy. Valles Marineris also lacks any swath of flat ground large enough for a safe landing.

InSight also needs penetrable ground, so it can deploy a heat-flow probe that will hammer itself 3 yards to 5 yards into the surface to monitor heat coming from the planet's interior. This tool can penetrate through broken-up surface material or soil, but could be foiled by solid bedrock or large rocks.

"For this mission, we needed to look below the surface to evaluate candidate landing sites,"Golombek said.

InSight's heat probe must penetrate the ground to the needed depth, so scientists studied Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images of large rocks near Martian craters formed by asteroid impacts. Impacts excavate rocks from the subsurface, so by looking in the area surrounding craters, the scientists could tell if the subsurface would have probe-blocking rocks lurking beneath the soil surface.

InSight also will deploy a seismometer on the surface and will use its radio for scientific measurements.

JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, and the German Aerospace Center are contributing instruments to the mission. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is building the spacecraft.

InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, which NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages. InSight's team includes U.S. and international co-investigators from universities, industry and government agencies.

See here for discussion of NASA's InSight mission to drill into Mars.

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2012 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement