Wednesday, August 22, 2012

InSight set for possible 2016 Launch Date

Listener Dan sent in some info on NASA's next planned mission to Mars. Called InSight, the lander's misson will involve - drilling 16 feet into the crust of Mars. The mission, set to launch in 2016,

  • will provide detailed information about the planet’s core, in particular determining whether it is liquid or solid.
InSight's landing will be no where near as complex as Curiosity's and in fact more closely resemble Phoenix's "beach ball / airbag" system.  Its' complement of scientific gear will consist of
a robotic arm and two black-and-white cameras as well as instruments to measure Martian seismic activity and the planet’s rotation axis. A small drill-like instrument that will drill several feet into the Martian soil to make temperature measurements.

InSight is part of NASA's Discovery program which is designed to do as much science as it can for as small a price-tag possible. In that vein, the InSight probe was topped at no more than 425 million. Far cheaper than Curiosity, but still able to carry out significant research. Discovery missions must also compete for with other missions of its' class for selection. Other projects being considered were:

  • the Comet Hopper, which would have explored the body of a comet, and the Titan Mare Explorer, which planned to land a small boat-like probe on a methane lake on Saturn’s moon Titan.
If all goes well, InSight will launch sometime in 2016

for more information check out NASA/JPL
and also the WIKI site here


kallamis said...

Thanks, saw this but the week has been so busy, this is now my official and only science site for the next week or so at least probably.
I know this sounds a little violent here, and well it is violent. Sort of. To mars it is.
Maybe what we should do, is send an exploration module to a place that we first explode. Not explode exactly, but we need to get deeper than 16 feet I believe, And I still want the things at the pole, not in the desert of the world. Lets slam that pole and see what is really there.
A non heat type explosive would work best, but since we can't land a catapult to break up ice, we need to think of something else. There is frozen life in that ice, I guarantee you there is.

Beam Me Up said...

Did you see that headline that asked "why is NASA in love with Mars?" and it does make one start to think. Anyway, I agree we have to get deeper and again yes, we need something more than a static probe that digs mere inches into the soil to do it's research. But I wonder how you get a heat-less explosion. isn't an explosion by its' very nature a rapid expansion of gases due to heat? What am I missing? Even dropping a rock will exchange its falling energy into heat energy, right?

kallamis said...

Yeah true. As usual never fully explaining myself.
This is why I mentioned the catapult. It basically just smashes things it hits, provided you throw a big enough projectile.
So though not an explosion in the truest sense of the word, it does break things up.
The only heat-less, or lot less heat type explosion I could even think of, would be basically theory for now. And even then how we would do that there is beyond me at the moment.
Take the highest expanding liquid, semi liquid, or whatever sludge we can make that when it freezes, expands exponentially. If you could freeze that substance nearly instantly, the resulting mass expansion would split things in all directions when it was injected into a substance like rock, ice, earth, whatever.
This would still release a certain amount of heat, but it wouldn't be like the that from a bomb. It would be cooler, and I am guessing less destructive to any frozen life forms that would be present. Minus the basic ripping apart at the ice's separation that is.
Problem one here is simple. We would need to create that substance first. After that, everything else would be easy.
My basic thing with the ice is to protect whatever may lie within from as much heat as possible. And also not to send pieces flying for miles around.

Beam Me Up said...

I know we are speaking in generalities, but there really is not an instance when you exchange one high energy state to another that does not generate heat. Yes, a catapult throwing a rock does not generate much heat, but in truth there is perishingly little energy in the system. But a mass capable of disturbing a large fraction of a planet's upper crust has to impart a great deal of angular velocity to the crust. That motion energy is instantly converted into heat. For all intents, an explosion. What am I missing here?

kallamis said...

Not a thing actually. I was just kind of counting on not a super fast reaction boom, but a cracking and breaking as that substance would freeze. There will be heat, no doubt. Just trying to find a way to keep it at it's minimal levels. The best way is to just go there and dig. But since that seems to be out for the moment, I'm just looking at other ways to break things up, and see what's in it.
It's basically impossible, but that is why I look at it. I don't like impossible things that could maybe be done at some point in time. So I am always looking for something new to try.
I look at it this way. No doctor so no way for me to get to the future, except by the slow path. I don't like waiting. I want the future now. I'm tired of waiting for it.
They never even gave us our flying cars, or our jet packs. It's time we all started building stuff ourselves and making our own futures. Even if we do crash, more than once. I can handle a few more crashes I'm sure. I hope.