Robot drill to Mars:NASA will send robot drill to Mars in 2016

In the actual wake of successfully dropping the actual SUV-sized Curiosity rover on Mars this month, NASA will send another robot to the actual Red Planet in 2016 to drill into the actual planet’s crust and, for the actual initial time, piece unison a picture of the actual Martian interior.

The $425 million robotic lander, named InSIGHT, will be built as well as operated by the actual Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the actual California Institute of Technology, the actual high-flying hotbed of now-famous engineers as well as scientists who designed as well as assembled the actual $2.5 billion Curiosity rover as well as its heart-stopping “sky crane,” which lowered the actual Curiosity rover to the actual Martian surface.

On Monday morning, NASA officials informed JPL staff that InSIGHT had won funding over two other proposed missions.

“This is another huge day for us out at JPL,” said Gregg Vane, the actual lab’s head of planning for solar system exploration.

Whereas Curiosity can roam the actual surface on six-wheels, InSIGHT will be planted in one spot after dropping onto the actual Martian surface — minus the actual sky crane — in September 2016.

A German-built drill nick-named “the mole” will pound 30 feet into the actual Martian crust to take the actual temperature of the actual planet, while a sensitive French-built seismometer will detect any Marsquakes. Together, the actual instruments will provide vital clues to how Mars formed.

“We’ll be capable to deduce the actual deep structure of Mars, which now is a total mystery,” said Vane. “That means all the actual way down to the actual core.”

To date, scientists have determined the actual deep structure of only one planet — Earth. They know the actual interior of Mars must be different, because Mars has no magnetic field to shield its surface from radiation. Earth, by contrast, has a powerful magnetic field generated by a spinning molten iron core.

Except for the actual drill as well as seismometer, which are new, InSIGHT will be a near-copy of the actual Phoenix lander NASA dropped onto Mars in 2008, which found water ice near the actual Martian north pole.

In choosing InSIGHT, NASA rejected two riskier missions: a robotic boat that would have floated on a methane lake on Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as a mission to examine a comet.

Meanwhile, Curiosity has begun shooting its laser “ChemCam” on Mars, blasting a rock Sunday in a successful test of the actual instrument, which can determine the actual composition of surface minerals by examining flashes of vaporized gas.
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