Military Embedded Systems

Spacecraft for next Mars mission set to begin construction


May 20, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

DENVER. Lockheed Martin engineers working on building the Mars mission spacecraft received the go ahead from NASA to start construction of InSight, the mission's spacecraft. The mission will study how Earthlike planets form.

InSight is set to launch from California in the Spring of 2016 and touch down on Mars about six months later. The stationary lander's robotic arm will then use surface and burrowing instruments from France and Germany to explore the planet's interior.

InSight program leaders delivered their mission-design results this week to a NASA review board, which then approved the results and green lighted the teams to start next stage of preparation. The next milestone for the program is delivery of the hardware to system integration starting this November.

InSight will adapt a Lockheed Martin spacecraft design from the previous NASA Phoenix Mars Lander, which inspected ice and soil on far-northern Mars in 2008. However, InSight will investigate a different aspect of planetary history with instruments that have never been used on Mars. The mission will look at how Earth and other rocky planets developed their layered inner structure of mantle, core, and crust, and then gain data about those interior zones. The InSight mission duration will be 630 days longer than Phoenix.

The mission's international science team is comprised of researchers from Belgium, Austria, France,, Canada, Japan, Germany, Spain, Poland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the U.S. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the InSight program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, which is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.


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