NASA’s Mission To Drill Into Mars Isn’t Dead Yet
The agency is targeting Mars Insight's launch date for May 2018
The Mars InSight lander is down but not out, according to the latest news from NASA.
The lander, designed to probe the inner structure of Mars by drilling underneath the surface, was originally scheduled to launch this month. But a faulty seismometer delayed the launch and put the entire mission in jeopardy.
In December, NASA announced it couldn’t get a vacuum seal around InSight’s seismometer–one of the spacecraft’s most important instruments, used to measure ground motion. Without being airtight, the extremely sensitive seismometer would measure every gentle Martian breeze as an earthquake. The mission’s cost was capped at $675 million, most of which has already been spent, so NASA needed to take some time to calculate whether or not they could afford to fix the instrument, or whether they should just call off the mission entirely.
Apparently the cost of the delay is still being assessed, with an estimate expected in August. Regardless, the space agency has accepted a plan to redesign the instrument. It’s now aiming to launch the lander the next time Earth and Mars align properly, beginning on May 5, 2018. That would put the lander on Mars in November of 2018.