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NASA sending first-ever mission to study Mars’ deep interior

In April, the spacecraft will be mounted to its rocket, connections between them will be checked and the launch team will go through a final training

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In a bid to study the deep interior of the Red Planet and find traces of how it was formed, NASA is all set to send a first-ever such mission to Mars.

Scheduled to launch on May 5, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) — a stationary lander — will be dedicated to explore Mars’ deep interior.

Scientists have earlier found layers of ice on the surface of Mars. Wikimedia Commons

It also will be the first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer, a device that measures quakes, on the soil of another planet, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

Bruce Banerdt is the principal investigator for InSight at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

“In some ways, InSight is like a scientific time machine that will bring back information about the earliest stages of Mars’ formation 4.5 billion years ago,” Banerdt said.

“It will help us learn how rocky bodies form, including Earth, its moon, and even planets in other solar systems,” he added.

InSight carries a suite of sensitive instruments to gather data and, unlike a rover mission, these instruments require a stationary lander from which they can carefully be placed on and below the Martian surface.

Also Read: NASA’s 2020 Mars rover to have 23 ‘eyes’

Looking deep into Mars will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from Earth. Several European partners have contributed instruments and key components to the InSight mission. France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales led a multinational team that built an ultra-sensitive seismometer for detecting marsquakes.

The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) developed a thermal probe that can bury itself up to 16 feet underground and measure heat flowing from inside the planet. “InSight is a truly international space mission,” said Tom Hoffman, project manager at JPL.

India has become only the 4th country in the world to successfully complete a Mars mission. Wikimedia Commons
Mars is a subject of intrigue for NASA. Wikimedia Commons

“Our partners have delivered incredibly capable instruments that will make it possible to gather unique science after we land,” he added. InSight currently is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California undergoing final preparation before launch.

In April, the spacecraft will be mounted to its rocket, connections between them will be checked and the launch team will go through a final training. “This next month will be exciting,” Banerdt said. “We’ve got some final work to do, but we’re almost ready to go to Mars.” IANS

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NASA On The Outlook To Find The Name Of Its New Mars Rover

Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July or August 2020 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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TESS, rover
NASA Curiosity rover completes 6 years on Mars. Pixabay

NASA is on the look out for a partner to conduct a contest among students to name the agency’s next rover to the Red Planet — the Mars 2020 mission — in the 2019 academic year.

The Mars 2020 rover mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars, including key questions about the potential for life on the Red Planet.

Corporations, nonprofits and educational organisations interested in sponsoring the contest can send proposals to NASA.

Rover
The selected partner will have an opportunity to be part of a historic mission, NASA said. IANS

To be considered, all proposals must be received by October 9, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

“We’ve been doing naming contests since the very first Mars rover back in 1997,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington.

“Thousands of kids participate, and their enthusiasm for the contest and Mars is infectious,” Zurbuchen said.

TESS, rover
An artist’s concept provided by NASA shows the Keplar Spacecraft moving through space. VOA

The selected partner will have an opportunity to be part of a historic mission, NASA said.

Also Read: Balloon Mission by NASA May Lead to Improved Weather Forecasting

Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July or August 2020 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (IANS)