A Mars rover mission may get canned — here’s the cool stuff it was going to do

A Mars rover mission may get canned — here’s the cool stuff it was going to do

NASA's InSight rover sprung a leak, and it won't launch for another two years -- and perhaps not at all.

As we recently reported, NASA has decided to delay the launch of the next Mars lander after a leak was discovered in the vacuum chamber, and now officials are wondering if it will ever get launched at all. That’s disappointing, because the InSight rover had some cool things on its plate once it made it to the Red Planet.

Because it’s so hard to find a good launch window, the delay of the InSight lander means instead of launching in March 2016 as planned, it won’t be able to launch until mid 2018 at the earliest, and NASA officials are considering cancelling the rover altogether — a blow to the overall Mars mission, but because InSight was relatively narrowly focused, not a massive setback as the agency turns its sights to finding evidence of life there and eventually putting humans on our neighbor years down the line.

According to NASA, the goal of the InSight mission is to place a single geophysical lander on Mars with the goal of staring into the interior of the Red Planet. The lander has as much to do with understanding planetary evolution and our solar system than it is to learn about Mars, which just happens to be a fairly convenient subject. InSight, if it does end up happening, could help scientists make huge discoveries on the fundamental processes that shaped the rocky planets of our solar system four billion years ago.

InSight will use its geophysical instruments to look deep below Mars’ surface, and checking its “pulse” if you will.

Understanding what’s going on underneath Mars’ surface is key to understanding the building blocks of Mars itself, which could further shed light on how planets evolved in the early solar system and lead to rocky planets in the inner solar system but gas giants in the mid to outer solar system.

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