NASA delays InSight mission, says we won’t be going to Mars again until at least 2018

nasa mars mission delayed 2 years insight
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Updated March 9, 2016 by Lulu Chang: Crushing our dreams of colonizing the Red Planet (at least for the time being), NASA today announced that we’ll have to wait to revisit Mars until at least May of 2018. The impressively named InSight mission (which stands for the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) aims to take a closer look at the “deep interior” of our closest neighbor planet, with hopes of better understanding how celestial bodies (like Earth) evolved. The launch date has been pushed back to May 5, 2018, and a scheduled landing wouldn’t take place until November 26 of that year.

Despite the fact that previous plans had NASA on track for a launch this month, apparently unfixable vacuum leaks in the “prime science instrument” forced the agency to delay its mission.

“The science goals of InSight are compelling, and the NASA and CNES plans to overcome the technical challenges are sound,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The quest to understand the interior of Mars has been a longstanding goal of planetary scientists for decades. We’re excited to be back on the path for a launch, now in 2018.”

Original Post: We may be getting closer to 3D-printing rocket engines that can take us to Mars, but we’re not actually getting any closer to going back to Mars anytime soon. Following the discovery of minuscule leaks in a vacuum sphere that contains the lander’s seismic instrument, NASA has been forced to delay the mission by at least two years. The leak, initially discovered at the beginning of December, have proven surprisingly stubborn, and now, John M. Grunsfeld, the associate administrator for NASA’s science directorate says, “we just have run out of time.”

The seemingly minor problem apparently has rather major implications, as the previously scheduled launch date of March 2016 will no longer be possible. While Science reports that the space agency will have to wait “at least 26 months before it can try to launch again,” it is unclear whether InSight will ever leave Earth. NASA has not offered any details as to future plans, stating simply, “After thorough examination, NASA managers have decided to suspend the March 2016 launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission. The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to repair an air leak on a key component of the mission’s science payload.”

Still, CNES, the French space agency, is optimistic about the feasibility of a quick fix. “We’re not giving up resolving NASA Mars Insight lander instrument leak [sic],” CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall said in an interview with SpaceNews. “We have till 5 January to nail it down.”

But he may be alone in his thought process. The director of the Toulouse Space Centre, Marc Pircher, expressed doubts in a statement of his own, saying, “It’s the first time ever that such a sensitive instrument has been built. We were very close to succeeding, but an anomaly has occurred, which requires further investigation. Our teams will find a solution to fix it, but it won’t be solved in time for a launch in 2016.”

Sorry Mars — don’t expect an earthly visit anytime soon.

Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Emerging Tech

Asteroid Ryugu is porous, shaped like a spinning top, and is formed of rubble

The Japanese Space Agency has been exploring a distant asteroid named Ryugu with its probe, Hayabusa 2. Now the first results from study of the asteroid are in, with three new papers published.
Emerging Tech

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super-speedy pulsar

A super-speedy pulsar has been spotted dashing across the sky, discovered using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Very Large Array. The pulsar is traveling at a breathtaking 2.5 million miles an hour.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover giant chimneys spewing energy from the center of the galaxy

Astronomers have discovered two exhaust channels which are funneling matter and energy away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy and out towards the edges of the galaxy, dubbed galactic center chimneys.
Emerging Tech

A milestone in the history of particle physics: Why does matter exist?

If matter and antimatter were both produced in equal amounts by the Big Bang, why is there so much matter around us and so little antimatter? A new experiment from CERN may hold the answer to this decades-long puzzle.
Emerging Tech

Dublin Airport has a novel idea for tackling rogue drones

There are a growing number of technology-based solutions for dealing with rogue drones flying near airports, but officials at Dublin Airport have come up with another idea for keeping the skies safe.
Emerging Tech

This sleek new exoskeleton makes walking easier, fits under your clothes

A new ankle exoskeleton that is designed to be worn under clothes can help people to walk without fatiguing — and without restricting natural motion or drawing attention to itself.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s latest breakthrough could make DNA-based data centers possible

Could tomorrow's data centers possibly store information in the form of synthetic DNA? Researchers from Microsoft have successfully encoded the word "hello" into DNA and then back again.
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Emerging Tech

Google’s Street View is mapping Earth’s most Mars-like terrain

Devon Island is a remote location in Canada's Arctic that's said to be the most Mars-like place on Earth. Street View recently visited the island to map the terrain and meet some of the scientists working there.