NASA calls off next mission to Mars over leaky seal

ORLANDO, Fla. -- NASA is calling off its next mission to Mars because there isn't enough time to fix a leaky seal on a key science instrument.

See Full Article

The InSight spacecraft was set for launch in March. The problem is with a protective pouch around the lander's seismometer, which was designed to measure ground movement on the red planet.

NASA managers and French designers of the instrument said Tuesday they must now decide whether the pouch's vacuum seal needs to be repaired, redesigned or the mission scrapped.

The next opportunity to launch the InSight lander is in May 2018 since the best chances of launching missions between Earth and Mars occur for just a few weeks every 26 months.

"We're close enough to launch but unfortunately we don't have enough time to try to identify the leak, fix it and recover and still make it to the launch pad in March," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's science mission chief.

The goal of the mission was to explore the interior core, mantle and crust of Mars in a way that no other planet has been studied outside of Earth. So far, $525 million has spent on the $675 million mission.

"We know the interior of Earth and its structure very well, but of the other planets, Mars is our only hope to make those kinds of measurements," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division.

NASA managers said it could take several months of analysis and discussion before they decide how to proceed. A redesign of the part could make the 2018 opportunity unlikely since it could take up to five years.

NASA officials said the delay of the InSight mission wouldn't affect the schedule of any other missions to Mars.

The three sensors on the seismometer need a vacuum seal around them to withstand the harsh, frigid Martian environment. Leaks had showed up during previous tests and mission team members thought the problem had been fixed. But the latest tests this week showed another leak of unknown origin.

The spacecraft was delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last week in anticipation of a launch. It will be sent back to Lockheed Martin's plant in Denver. It would have landed on Mars six months after launch.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Police sketch created with DNA technology is potentially useless or even misleading, says scientist

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Calgary police hired a U.S. biotech company to create a picture of a woman using only her DNA, but a scientist says the evidence behind the technology to create the image simply isn't there. Source
  • Neanderthals, not humans, created these cave paintings in Spain

    Tech & Science CBC News
    From the murky depths of Spanish caves comes a surprising insight: Neanderthals created art. That's been proposed before, but experts say two new studies finally give convincing evidence that our evolutionary cousins had the brainpower to make artistic works and use symbols. Source
  • Neanderthals, not modern humans, created these cave paintings

    Tech & Science CBC News
    From the murky depths of Spanish caves comes a surprising insight: Neanderthals created art. That's been proposed before, but experts say two new studies finally give convincing evidence that our evolutionary cousins had the brainpower to make artistic works and use symbols. Source
  • Science Says: European art scene began with Neanderthals

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK - New discoveries in some Spanish caves give the strongest evidence yet that Neanderthals created art. The key finding was the age of some previously known cave paintings and decorated seashells. European researchers found they were created before our species arrived in Europe. Source
  • Fishing industry has massive global footprint: study

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Global fishing efforts are so wide ranging that fleets covered more than 460 million kilometres in 2016 -- a distance equal to going to the moon and back 600 times. That startling revelation is contained in a newly published study in Science that quantifies fishing's global footprint for the first time. Source
  • Twitter bars tactics used by 'bots' to spread false stories

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Twitter Inc. said on Wednesday it would no longer allow people to post identical messages from multiple accounts, cracking down on a tactic that Russian agents and others have allegedly used to make tweets or topics go viral. Source
  • Social media may be pushing more millennials to turn to cosmetic procedures, clinics say

    Tech & Science CBC News
    At age 27, Vanessa Alaumary has already had several cosmetic procedures. She started getting injectables a few years ago and says many of her friends also started in their early 20's. Selfie craze triggers surge in cosmetic procedures Source
  • The other Pyeongchang Games: eSports have taken over South Korea

    Tech & Science CTV News
    While thousands of athletes compete for Olympic glory in Pyeongchang, just blocks away hundreds of other athletes are competing for digital glory in front of computer screens. eSports, basically the sport of playing video games, has blown up in South Korea thanks in part to the country’s fibre-optic network -- said to be the world’s best. Source
  • Feds lift all bovine tuberculosis quarantines from Prairie farms

    Tech & Science CTV News
    EDMONTON -- The federal government says all quarantines imposed on Prairie farms and ranches because of a few cases of bovine tuberculosis have been lifted. Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay says no additional cases of the infectious disease have been detected. Source
  • More than half of federal government scientists still feel muzzled, poll finds

    Tech & Science CBC News
    More than two years after the election of a federal government that says it wants scientists to speak freely, more than half of federal scientists who respond to a new poll say they still don't feel they can. Source