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Space & Planetary Science

NASA Picks InSight Mission for Discovery Program (Update)

By Keith Cowing
August 20, 2012
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Keith’s note: Sources report that NASA has selected JPL’s InSight mission to drill on Mars. Given that this is based on Mars Phoenix which, in turn, heavily utilized Mars Polar Lander designs, you can rest assured that NASA will never be able to tell you how much this mission really cost or how much was “saved” by using existing designs.
JPL’s InSight: Ignoring The Real Costs – and its MPL Heritage, earlier post
Confusion About Future NASA Landers on Mars, earlier post
Keith’s note: Telecon note: If you look at the NASA JPL website and other related materials there are frequent references to InSight’s design heritage i.e. “The InSight mission is similar in design to the Mars lander that the Phoenix mission used successfully in 2007 to study ground ice near the north pole of Mars. The reuse of this technology, developed and built by Lockheed-Martin Space Systems in Denver, CO, will provide a low-risk path to Mars without the added cost of designing and testing a new system from scratch.”
When I asked how much money was saved by re-using this design NASA (Jim Greene) could not answer. He said that NASA only looked at the current design and not at any previous mission. When I asked how it is that NASA can cite the cost saving/risk reduction from using a previous mission design in one location but then say that it is not relevant in another situation i.e. that this sounded contradictory, Green’s reply was confusing and did not answer my question. I guess I will have to listen to the replay to see if it makes any sense the second time around.
SMD AA John Grunsfeld did make a good point that InSight is designed to last for several years in a more equatorial location whereas Phoenix had a limited life due to its polar location.

NASA Discovery-class Mission Announcement Today
“NASA will host a media teleconference at 5 p.m. EDT today to discuss the selection of a new Discovery-class mission that will further NASA’s exploration of the solar system. The selection will be the 12th in NASA’s series of Discovery-class missions. The teleconference also will be streamed live online at:
NASA will send robot drill to Mars in 2016, Washington Post
“This is another big day for us out at JPL,” said Gregg Vane, the lab’s head of planning for solar system exploration.”
Keith’s note: Hilarious how JPL breaks NASA’s own news embargoes …

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.