The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is set to send its first-ever mission to Mars to study its deep interior and find traces of how it was formed.
Scheduled to be launched on May 5, 2018, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) will be the first-ever mission dedicated to study the heart of Mars.
It also will be the first NASA mission, after the Apollo Moon Landings, to place a seismometer on the soil of another planet. The seismometer is a device that measures quakes.
How InSight will be a significant mission for scientists?
• InSight will bring back information about the earliest stages of Mars' formation dating 4.5 billion years ago.
• It will give hints of how rocky bodies form such as Earth, its moon and also about planets of other solar systems.
• It carries a set of responsive instruments to gather data. These instruments require a stationary lander like InSight from which they can be carefully placed on and below the Martian surface.
• The deep revelations about Mars will let scientists understand the difference in the crust, mantle and core of Mars and Earth.
Organisations involved in the construction and launch of InSight spacecraft
• InSight is a part of the Discovery Program of NASA which is managed by the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.
• Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and tested the InSight spacecraft.
• JPL manages the InSight Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
• Apart from NASA, several European partners have also contributed to the InSight mission in the form of instruments and instrument components.
• A multinational team from France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales built an ultra-sensitive seismometer for detecting mars-quakes.
• While, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) developed a thermal probe that can go up to 16 feet underground and measure heat flowing from inside the planet.
• At present, the InSight is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California undergoing final preparation before launch.