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NASA postpones it's next Mars rover mission due to leak

Dec 28, 2015, 00:03
NASA postpones it's next Mars rover mission due to leak

NASA suspended the planned launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission for March 2016.

Banerdt, however, said to make sure that the instrument is fully ready, and due to the fact that the 2016 launch window closes on March 30, the next Mars mission may have to be deferred to 2018. "A decision on a path forward will be made in the coming months". A leak has prevented the instrument from retaining vacuum seal to withstand the harsh environment in Mars.

The next Mars mission, InSight, has been cancelled says NASA, because of a leak in SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure), a seismometer supplied by CNES (Centre national d'├ętudes spatiales), the French National Centre for Space Studies.

Mars will give a better understanding of Earth's early development because the crust and the mantle of the red planet have been undisturbed as compared to Earth.

The space researcher nevertheless admitted that his team felt a little letdown when they learned that the next Mars mission will most likely not push through in 2016.

The French space agency CNES, which provided the seismometer, attempted to fix a leak in the instrument's vacuum canister, but apparently was unsuccessful.

Scientists thought they had repaired the leak around the seal, but a test on Monday showed that the instrument could not hold its vacuum seal in the extreme cold temperatures.

"It s the first time ever that such a sensitive instrument has been built", said Marc Pircher, Director of CNES s Toulouse Space Centre. The agency officials said there indeed is likelihood that the mission will be scrapped totally.

The next launch window will not occur until around May 2018 and the USA space agency said it does not yet know if it will be able to continue with the mission given budget constraints.

The Insight spacecraft was supposed to take off in March and land on the red planet six months later. Instead, the spacecraft has been sent back to Lockheed Martin in Jefferson County. The cancellation raises questions about the future of the research effort, as it will be another two years before Earth and Mars are favorably aligned for a launch.

NASA's next mission to Mars has been grounded, the U.S. space agency announced on Tuesday. With the 2016 launch canceled, the spacecraft will be returned from Vandenberg to Lockheed's facility in Denver. Still, Jim Green said that the successes of Curiosity have vastly outweighed any disappointment about that delay. "It is more important to do it right than take an unacceptable risk". SEIS is one of the two primary science instruments aboard InSight.

As the mission proceeded, the vacuum would slowly rise to a factor of 10,000 - equal to about a thousandth of a millibar.

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