NASA Calls off Next Mars Mission for at Least 26 Months
Space enthusiasts who were eagerly waiting for NASA’s next Mars mission got disappointed when the US space agency broke the news that it will not launch its InSight spacecraft to the Red Planet in March due to a leak in the craft’s primary scientific instrument.
On December 22, NASA said the plan to launch the spacecraft to Mars has been cancelled for some time after scientists found a glitch in a French-built seismometer. Now, it is hoped that InSight will take off about 26 months after the original launch schedule as the Earth-Mars orbital geometry is favorable after every two years and two months.
NASA will launch its InSight spacecraft with an aim to study Martian interior’s structure by analyzing how marsquakes ring through the fourth planet from the sun. Adding to that, the mission will help the space agency determine size and composition and Martian core, crust and mantle. It will be the first mission with such goals.
Lindy Elkins-Tanton from Arizona State University in Tempe said, “Trying to do something new, something truly exploratory is difficult. The team is also contending with bringing together people in different countries who have not previously met, to build a new instrument”.
The spacecraft was scheduled to launch in March from California’s Vandenberg launch site. Last week, the craft was transported to Vandenberg.
After NASA’s cancelled mission, the European Space Agency remained the only agency to launch a mission, Trace Gas Orbiter, to Mars in March.
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