Insight and Curiosity

The headline sounds like the title of a cheesy self help pamphlet, but it is actually the name of two Mars missions. Now, NASA is not above cheesiness (I'm looking at you, Enterprise), but in this case the two missions are genuine.

We all know the stunning success of the Curiosity landing. Currently, the boys over at NASA are putting the rover through its paces and testing vital systems. A few days ago it tried out its laser, and today it is flexing its robotic arm. Later, Curiosity will be given its first mission, and will trundle around the surface looking for interesting rocks to study.

NASA has revealed that in 2016 it will be sending another mission to Mars. Named InSight, this mission is much smaller and cheaper than Curiosity. Curiosity is designed to be a go anywhere, do anything, root out microbes even if they resist kind of mission.

InSight is much humbler. Costing only a few hundred million dollars and largely using preexisting hardware, it is very cheap by the standards of mars missions. It will land on the surface and deploy a network of geological sensors. These will probe the interior of Mars, to determine if it still has an active mantle and core, and why it shows no tectonic activity. This sort of information will give us great insight, pun intended, into how rocky planets form.

1 Response

  1. Helmut Albrecht
    Thanks for the "insight".

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