If a mission to Mars will still take place on the planet will be launched device that will drill surface on the five-meter depth and take samples of the soil. The decision on the fate of the project will be made by NASA InSight March 19, 2012. However, to do this he will have to overcome its competitors — alternative programs lander landing on Titan and send a probe to one of the comets.
NASA's Discovery Program of low-budget envisages a series of missions that could significantly advance the science on earth one direction. Among the projects under consideration today — three competing. March 19, 2012 NASA developers will present their concepts of the missions, after which the aerospace agency will make the final decision. Okin also view the project proposed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The internal investigation using seismic, geodetic and scanning in the infrared range of equipment — so the acronym stands for InSight. The lander is a lot like Phoenix Mars, who in 2008 became the first probe earthlings who landed in the polar regions of Mars. It is assumed widely used hardware components already in use on the Martian orbital reconnaissance (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MRO).
InSight idea is that, unlike his predecessors, he will learn not lift material located directly on the surface of Mars, and the soil from the five-meter deep. This material should be of particular interest, because after the discovery in 2008 of water ice under a thin surface layer of sand deposits, it became clear that the entire surface of the Red Planet can hide unexpected formations. Most of all, of course, interested in the possible life: in the Earth's deserts, including the waterless, developed bacterial film formed just at a depth of a meter.
The lander will be stationary, that is, of course, has both advantages and challenges. First the pros: it will not endanger the banal accident buried the "Lunokhod". Since telemetry control rovers is not applicable, it is really important point: even if planetary rovers will not be buried in the collapse of the route, it can be damaged chassis, like the Spirit. Risks arise from the same stillness: the descent to the solid rock to drill would be difficult, and change the location of the machine can not. To improve the chances of survival of the probe, it is assumed primarsit closer to the equator, in the Elysium Planitia, where more sunlight for batteries and less risk of a sand storm like the one that brought down Phoenix. Because of this, while it is supposed to work in one Martian year (or two Earth) that four times larger than its predecessor.
Be upon him, and a whole new scientific tools — a highly sensitive seismograph French (SEIS) and flow meter infrared radiation, made in Germany and is able to dig into the ground. With the latter will determine the amount of heat coming from the soil, and thereby establish the nature of the planet's core: whether it is cold and hard, like on the moon, or the red-hot and liquid, as on Earth. Both devices will be retrieved from the probe mechanical "hand", is very close to the same device Phoenix. In addition, by checking the signals from the InSight and MRO is expected to yield more accurate data on the speed of rotation of Mars and its orbit.
Definitely, InSight — the project is not such an ambitious as sending planetship on Titan. And at the same time, his chances of winning the competition, NASA is very great: for savings he expects to use the drawings and blueprints Phoenix, construction of which will play almost completely. The same applies to a considerable extent and cell based devices. This means that the cost of the mission will be gentle, and the distance to the target is much smaller than before the Saturnian moon. However, if the budget cuts funding for NASA continue, in 2016, Americans probably will not fly either to Titan or Mars.