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Space Bug Mars NASA United States Hardware

NASA Has Suspended Its Next Mission To Mars (sciencemag.org) 46

sciencehabit writes: NASA has suspended its next mission to Mars after problems with a French-built seismological instrument could not be fixed in time for the scheduled launch. The mission, a lander called InSight that was to listen for tremors on Mars as a way of understanding the planet's interior, will not launch in March 2016, the agency said today. NASA has not announced a new launch date, but because of the relative orbits of Mars and Earth, the agency will have to wait at least 26 months before it can try to launch again. The troublesome instrument is called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure; the Max Planck Institute, one of the instrument's developers, has a nice page outlining SEIS's construction and function.
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NASA Has Suspended Its Next Mission To Mars

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  • Timing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @02:03PM (#51166159)

    Right after NASA's funding increase got signed.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So you mean the French didn't work overtime to get the project done in time to make the window? Shocking.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Have you seen the French work ethic and amount of vacation time they get each year? It's amazing they get anything done in that country.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          French productivity per hour is on par with other western countries, they just work fewer hours on average. And that means they have a better work/life balance than most other western countries.

    • I agree. How hard could it possibly be to build a glorified seismograph?

      I know everything must be space rated and communications are involved, but these should be problems with well defined solutions. I feel as though they try to get clever when it comes to space stuff and it never works out quite the way they expect.

      The sad thing is the company gets paid whether they launch or not.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @02:09PM (#51166187) Homepage
    Relative orbits means having Earth and Mars come together at their closet points every two years to launch a mission. Standard operating procedure for Mars missions. What about the relative orbits of Earth, Venus and Mars for an inward slingshot?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good call. I'm sure that none of the "eggheads" at NASA has thought of any other path to Mars than the one they've chosen. Send them an email. You'll be a hero.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )
        I sometimes wonder about that. Most people think of space as being OUTWARD from Earth. Since Mars is in an OUTWARD orbit, our spacecraft most fly OUTWARD when Earth and Mars are at their closet points. I get a lot of negative comments whenever I mention a Venus flyby, which has an INWARD orbit from both Earth and Mars, but can still be used as a slingshot between the two planets.
        • I sometimes wonder about that. Most people think of space as being OUTWARD from Earth.

          I don't think it's a quesiton of OUTWARD/INWARD, but more about being practical and efficient.

          Since Mars is in an OUTWARD orbit, our spacecraft most fly OUTWARD when Earth and Mars are at their closet points.

          That also happens to be the shortest and thus fastest route between earth and venus.

          I get a lot of negative comments whenever I mention a Venus flyby, which has an INWARD orbit from both Earth and Mars, but can still be used as a slingshot between the two planets.

          Except that this is a much more complicated trajectory, and is a lot longer distance and will probably take a lot more time.
          I'm too lazy to compute the time necessary and it's also absolutely outside of my field of work (I am a doctor, creimer! Not an asto-physicist ! :-D ) so I won't probably even be competent to compute if I wante

          • For fuck's sake: it's *France* we're speaking about, not *Sweeden*. Do no mix them. Both countries happen to work less than 36 hours a week. BUT only the second one actually gets things done. The first one has a massive tendency to consider "on strike"/"public demonstrations" as a soft of national sport.

            It's called democracy, you unutterable twat.

            Would you like to live somewhere that banned all forms of dissent against our corporate overlords? There's a word for that sort of system.

            • It's called democracy, you unutterable twat.

              I would call it "getting on everyone else's nerves.

              Would you like to live somewhere that banned all forms of dissent against our corporate overlords? There's a word for that sort of system.

              No, I very much would like somewhere where there is *direct* democracy.
              (Which by the way, I do.)

              Means that the actual population is really in charge, and does have the last say on anything through voting.
              In a direct democracy, when you're un-happy with something, instead of doing completely shitty counter-productive things like strikes and public demonstrations (things that mainly ends-up in pissing everyone), you simply exercice your right to vote for/aga

    • One reason, and I'm sure there are others, is that the thermal load from the sun at Venus is greater than at Earth or Mars (nearly 2x the solar flux at Venus as at Earth) and the spacecraft would need at least a partial redesign and some added thermal control items (sunshades or increased heating tolerances) to accommodate it. If the spacecraft was planned for launch in March 2016, the final design is already done. Venus flybys have been used before but not for schedule convenience, only when the spacecra

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @02:11PM (#51166211) Journal

    So, scientists are shaken up over the delayed seismometer mission?

  • Considering the trainwreck that was the previous mission to mars! [imdb.com]

  • by Arkh89 ( 2870391 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @02:51PM (#51166523)

    It seems that the CNES took out an article today saying that the instrument was repaired. See the cached content here [googleusercontent.com].

    It is saying that the core of the instrument is a titanium sphere keeping inner sensors in a 0.25 mbar vacuum (at most). This is about 40000x less than atmospheric pressure on earth. What they saw is that the pressure inside the sphere went up from 0 to 30 mbar in a month. They found a production defect on one of the sensors connectors going through the shell but it seems that they were able to seal it correctly with some resin. They also found a second leakage problem around the pump creating the vacuum, which could be fixed as well.

    They are currently running tests to determine if everything is ok. According to the article, the launch could be re-scheduled to March 18th.

    • Seems once the chief engineer entered his proper facebook credentials, the application started working. Although he's getting a lot SMS messages sent to his phone now.

    • FTFY:
      0.25 mbar vacuum (at most). This is about 4000x (not 40000x) less than atmospheric pressure on earth.

  • Sounds to me like they need a queue for robotic mars missions. The most expensive thing is the launch not what they are sending into space.

  • > but because of the relative orbits of Mars and Earth, the agency will have to wait at least 26 months before it can try to launch again

    *opens ksp*

    Checks out.

  • (Read like "Marsha".)

    Is this the NASA channel or something? Can we please stop posting stories made by known liars? At least add some content from TheNASAChannel: https://www.youtube.com/user/T... [youtube.com]

  • >> NASA Has Suspended Its Next Mission To Mars (sciencerag)

    What, they canceled the virtual one?
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/15/12/21/2235210/nasa-is-creating-a-virtual-reality-mission-to-mars

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