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  InSight to Mars: Viewing, questions, comments

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Author Topic:   InSight to Mars: Viewing, questions, comments
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 08-20-2012 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
InSight to Mars: mission viewing, questions, comments
This thread is intended for comments and questions regarding NASA's InSight mission to Mars and the updates published under the topic: InSight lander to drill 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).

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 08-20-2012 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seriously? 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 Pearlman
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posted 08-20-2012 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My 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 Mauro
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posted 08-21-2012 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting 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 Pearlman
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posted 08-21-2012 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As 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.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 08-21-2012 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm going to make a prediction: it will get a colour camera. NASA has learnt its PR lessons.

Gorgon
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From: Helsinki, Finland/Lisbon, Portugal
Registered: May 2012

posted 09-03-2012 07:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gorgon   Click Here to Email Gorgon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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
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Posts: 2024
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 09-03-2012 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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?

Gorgon
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From: Helsinki, Finland/Lisbon, Portugal
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posted 09-05-2012 02:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gorgon   Click Here to Email Gorgon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 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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