Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Necessary Delay a Journey to Mars Must Happen at the Right Time

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Necessary Delay a Journey to Mars Must Happen at the Right Time

Article excerpt

Sometimes it's the little things that can scrap an ambitious mission to space. Last week, NASA announced that its unmanned Mars InSight mission, originally set for March 2016, will be delayed until May 2018, the next time Earth and Mars are favorably aligned.

Unlike previous missions that mapped the Martian surface and gathered geologic information, the $675 million InSight project is designed to probe the planet's interior using seismic instruments that will be mounted on the Martian surface. The instruments are extremely sensitive and require a near-perfect vacuum for accurate measurements. The goal is to measure the velocity of sound waves passing through the planet's interior so that scientists can calculate the depth of the crust, mantle and core.

During routine testing, NASA discovered tiny leaks in the vacuum sphere containing the instruments. …

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