clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

InSight lander: NASA returns to Mars in 2016 for geologic discovery

New, 26 comments

NASA is readying the InSight lander for launch in 2016 that will measure geologic data from below the surface of Mars so that scientists can better understand the origins of our solar system's planets.

NASA Insight Rover
NASA Insight Rover

While the NASA's Curiosity rover explores the surface of Mars, NASA has another mission planned that will measure the red planet's subterranean geology. NASA's new lander will be named InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) and is expected to launch on March 27th, 2016. Scientists hope that it will prove whether Mars has a solid or liquid core, and whether the planet shows signs of tectonic and geothermal activity.

The craft will send a probe deep underground to measure seismic vibrations, temperature, and gravitational fluctuations from the pull of the sun. NASA is using parts from its 2007 Phoenix lander in InSight, but some of the instruments will be provided by the French and German space agencies. By reusing this proven chassis, NASA says that it can test and deploy the craft faster than if it were designer from scratch. Once InSight lands on Mars in September of 2016, it's expected to return over 29GB of data over the span of its 720-day mission, which will give scientists clues both about the formation of Mars and the other rocky planets in our solar system.