Next Mars mission to probe Red Planet's core
Scheduled to land on Mars sometime in 2016, NASA's next planetary mission will measure seismic waves and heat flows through the Red Planet's interior.
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Insight beat out two other finalists to become NASA's 12th Discovery-class mission. The other two contenders were Comet Hopper, which would have landed on a comet multiple times to study how the body changed on its trip around the sun, and the Titan Mare Explorer, or TiME.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Exploring Mars with Curiosity
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TiME would have landed on the methane-ethane seas of Saturn's huge moon Titan, providing the first direct exploration of an ocean beyond Earth.
The selection of InSight may help reaffirm NASA's dedication to Mars exploration despite recent financial troubles. The White House's proposed 2013 federal budget cuts the agency's planetary science efforts by 20 percent, with much of the funding coming out of the Mars program.
As result, NASA dropped out of the European-led ExoMars mission — which aims to launch an orbiter and a rover to the Red Planet in 2016 and 2018, respectively — and has begun downscaling its Mars program.
"The exploration of Mars is a top priority for NASA, and the selection of InSight ensures we will continue to unlock the mysteries of the Red Planet and lay the groundwork for a future human mission there," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
"The recent successful landing of the Curiosity rover has galvanized public interest in space exploration, and today's announcement makes clear there are more exciting Mars missions to come," Bolden added.
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- The Boldest Mars Missions in History
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