Mars is in NASA’s future. NASA announced today that InSight, the futuristic lander that was completed by Lockheed Martin said that the build was finished and that it would be ready for launch in the fall of 2016. This comes as excitement and anticipation around the next Mars mission continues to ramp up. The next several years are going to be significant for space study as a whole, but specifically the work that NASA is doing to ensure that Mars is a major part of the plan going forward.
The goal of this next mission is going to be fairly simple, as scientists and the InSight lander work to dig deeper into the Martian surface than any craft has previously. In all, NASA scientists hope that they can dig at least 9 feet into the surface. A best case scenario would ensure that the team would be able to dig 15 feet into the martian surface. However, it’s unclear how well this will go and much of the mission is still unknown.
The spacecraft carrying InSight will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Jim Green, the director of Nasa’s Planetary Science Division pointed out that the work that has been done in recent years, combined with the work that is going to be done in the next several years as missions like this take place is going to be crucial in actually pushing humans understanding of all planets forward. He said, “Today, our robotic scientific explorers are paving the way, making great progress on the journey to Mars.” His sentiments though are not excsluive to NASA or their programs. The excitement around this particular lander even has Lockheed Martin excited about what the future of space travel could hold.
Stu Spath, the InSight project manager at Lockheed Martin pointed out that, “The assembly of InSight went very well and now it’s time to see how it performs.” He went on to point out that, “The environmental testing regimen is designed to wring out any issues with the spacecraft so we can resolve them while it’s here on Earth.”
Tom Hoffman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said of InSight that, “It’s great to see the spacecraft put together in its launch configuration,” adding that, “Many teams from across the globe have worked long hours to get their elements of the system delivered for these tests. There still remains much work to do before we are ready for launch, but it is fantastic to get to this critical milestone.”
Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be the individual leading the mission. However, there will be countless individuals involved in the process to get this lander to Mars, and to really dig its feet in for some of the best research that has ever been accomplished on the Martian surface. This is something that will completely change the way Mars is viewed and will be powerful in the grand scheme of space travel.