NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is back on track for a 2018 launch after the discovery of leaks in key instrumentation during testing forced NASA to abandon its original 2016 launch date. The spacecraft is now in final testing at its Lockheed Martin facility in Denver, ahead of a unique launch from ULA’s West Coast site.
The InSight mission draws upon a strong international partnership led by Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt of JPL. The lander’s Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package is provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
This includes a probe that will hammer itself to a depth of about 16 feet (5 meters) into the ground beside the lander, providing – as the mission’s name suggests – major insight into the interior of Mars.
The spacecraft was on a smooth path towards a 2016 launch, after a processing flow that saw it enter what was known as the ATLO phase of processing in 2014. By May 2015, the lander deployed its solar arrays inside a Denver clean room at Lockheed Martin.
Fully assembled, the spacecraft began a series of rigorous environmental testing. This testing was designed to confirm InSight ...