Back in December 2015, NASA’s InSight lander got delayed– a mission to investigate the innards of Marian surface. But now is the time for some good news: NASA has officially announced the mission to launch in May 2018. The revised timeline will see the mission launch no earlier than May 5, 2018, arriving at Mars almost seven months later on November 26. InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a motionless lander that will drill 5 meters (16 feet) underneath the surface to check the temperature of Mars and observe the subsurface section.
Artist's illustration of Insight on Mars. Image Credit; NASA/JPL-CALTECH
This mission will help us to increase our understanding of not only of Mars, but also how other rocky worlds form and develop, too. The mission was originally postponed when a vacuum leakage was revealed in one of its instruments, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), which will sense signals from marsquakes, other meteorite impacts, and even more limited events like dust storms and landslides. The leakage meant that the device would have been impractical on Mars, giving NASA no other option but to postpone the launch.
Geoff Yoder, currently working as an acting associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement:
“It's gratifying that we are moving forward with this important mission to help us better understand the origins of Mars and all the rocky planets, including Earth,”
Launches to Mars only happen in precise windows when the both planets line up for a shorter trip, which happens approximately every 26 months, which is why NASA had to delay the mission for so long. But, luckily, this new launch date has been confirmed. And it will probably turn out to be a very busy year for Mars, with SpaceX also preparing a mission, even though their current rocket mishap may complicate matters.