The design of the lander borrows heavily on that of the successful Phoenix spacecraft which arrived at the Red Planet in 2008. But although InSight looks superficially similar, it will carry a very different set of instrumentation. A seismic experiment will listen for the equivalent of minor earthquakes and use this information to map the boundaries between the rock layers in the martian interior. The results should help determine if the planet has a liquid or solid core, and provide some clues as to why Mars, unlike Earth, lacks tectonic plates.
A German-built thermal probe will penetrate the surface to gauge the planet's temperature profile, providing an information about how the planet is cooling. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is managing the mission, will supply the spacecraft's two cameras on InSight and a robotic arm.
InSight is a Discovery-class mission cost-capped at $425m, not including the launch vehicle.
Related categories MARS SPACECRAFT
SATELLITES AND SPACE PROBES
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