NASA Sending Drill To Mars In 2016

While the Mars Curiosity Rover explores the surface of the red planet, NASA is dying to know what’s underneath those martian rocks. In 2016, NASA may find out.

The space agency is planning to send a large drill called InSIGHT (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations) to the red planet to get a look at the planet’s interior.

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said:

“InSIGHT will get to the ‘core’ of the nature of the interior and structure of Mars, well below the observations we’ve been able to make from orbit or the surface.”

The Washington Post reports that the InSIGHT mission will have a $425 million budget. The drill will be built and operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the group that was also behind the Mars Curiosity Rover mission.

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The drill will dig 30 feet down into the Martian surface to take the temperature of the planet. A seismometer will also be on the InSIGHT to detect any Marsquakes. Space.com reports that the machine will also have a robotic arm and a camera on-board.

Gregg Vane, the head of planning for solar system exploration at JPL, said:

“This is another big day for us out at JPL…. We’ll be able to deduce the deep structure of Mars, which now is a total mystery. That means all the way down to the core.”

The InSIGHT mission beat out two other Discovery-Class mission. The other two options were the Comet Hopper, a mission to explore comets orbiting the sun, and TiME, a boat that would explore the methane-ocean on Saturn’s moon Titan.