NASA’s new Mars mission set to be launched in May 2018

NASA’s InSight mission to study the deep interior of Mars is targeting a new launch window that begins May 5 2018, with a landing scheduled for November 26 that year. The spacecraft had been on track to launch this month until a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument prompted NASA to suspend preparations for launch.

InSight’s (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will help study how rocky planets – including Earth – formed and evolved. InSight project managers proposed a plan to redesign the science instrument was accepted in support of a 2018 launch. “The quest to understand the interior of Mars has been a longstanding goal of planetary scientists for decades. We’re excited to be back on the path for a launch, now in 2018,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will redesign, build and conduct qualifications of the new vacuum enclosure for the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), the component that failed in December. France’s space agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) will lead instrument level integration and test activities.

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