NASA's Planned 'InSight' Lander Will Look at the Center of Mars in 2016
NASA's proposed Mars InSight Lander will mine the deepest hole yet into the Red Planet; revealing the mysteries deep in the interior of Mars. InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is set to launch in 2016. It is based on the proven Phoenix Mars spacecraft and lander design with state-of-the-art avionics from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) missions in this artist rendition. InSight will be able to drill as deep as 5 meters deep.
“InSight is essentially built from scratch, but nearly build-to-print from the Phoenix design,” Banerdt, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena , Calif, told me. The team can keep costs down by re-using the blueprints pioneered by Phoenix instead of creating an entirely new spacecraft. This will be an international science experiment based the platform very similar to NASA's Phoenix system. “The robotic arm is similar (but not identical) to the Phoenix arm.”
However, the landing site and science goals for InSight are quite different from Phoenix. InSight will have an entirely new array of three science instruments, including two from Europe, designed to look inside Mars searching for clues to the formation of the planet. It will determine if there is any seismic activity, the amount of heat flow from the interior, the size of Mars core and whether the core is liquid or solid.
“The seismometer (SEIS, stands for Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure) is from France (built by CNES and IPGP) and the heat flow probe (HP3, stands for Heat flow and Physical Properties Probe) is from Germany (built by DLR),” Banerdt explained.