Mars Mission Put on Hold Due to Technical Fault with Instruments: NASA

Mars Mission Put on Hold Due to Technical Fault with Instruments: NASA

NASA space scientists were working on a mission to Mars, but according to latest updates, the Mars mission has been put on hold for an indefinite period. Deep space missions or any mission beyond earth always involve high risk and efforts.

Sources with knowledge about the matter said that the decision to cancel the new Mars lander, named InSight, was taken after agency engineers were unable to repair a major leak, which involves key scientific instruments.

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said, “We push the boundaries of space technology with our missions to enable science, but space exploration is unforgiving, and the bottom line is that we're not ready to launch in the 2016 window”.

Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) was scheduled to be launched in March and was about to arrive on Mars in late September.

According to NASA, the spacecraft’s mission was to study Mars’ interior and help scientist to better understand the processes that led to the formation of rocky planets in our solar system about 4 billion years ago.

The mission has been put on hold due to a leak in the seismometer, an instrument made by France's Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) and designed to measure ground movements as tiny as the diameter of an atom.

Marc Pircher, director of CNES's Toulouse Space Centre, said in a statement that it is for the first time when such a sensitive instrument has been built. Very soon, their team will find a solution to fix it, but as of now they have to cancel the 2016 launch, he added.

The NASA statement on the issue informed..

A key science instrument that will be carried aboard NASA's Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft being prepared for launch in March 2016 is experiencing a leak in the vacuum container carrying its main sensors. The sensors are part of an instrument called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), which is provided by the French Space Agency (CNES).

The seismometer is the prime science payload that will help answer questions about the interior structure and processes within the deep Martian interior. The SEIS instrument has three high-sensitivity seismometers enclosed in a sealed sphere. The seismometers need to operate in a vacuum in order to provide exquisite sensitivity to ground motions as small as the width of an atom. After the final sealing of the sphere, a small leak was detected, that would have prevented meeting the science requirements once delivered to the surface of Mars.

The CNES/JPL team is currently working to repair the leak, prior to instrument integration and final environmental tests in France before shipping to the United States for installation into the spacecraft and launch.

The InSight lander has completed assembly and testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Colorado, and is being prepared to ship to the Vandenberg AFB launch site. Installation of the seismometer is planned for early January. The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) from Germany and the rest of the scientific payload are already installed.