NASA launches new Mars probe capable of analysing planetary interior

NASA launches new Mars probe capable of analysing planetary interior

InSight will be the first probe to investigate the interior of Mars. By studying the Red Planet’s seismic activity and

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Photo: NASA/JPL

InSight will be the first probe to investigate the interior of Mars. By studying the Red Planet’s seismic activity and patterns of heat flow, researchers hope to achieve a better understanding of how all rocky planets, like Earth, formed.

Though this mission will be a huge leap for American exploration of Mars, the status of future NASA missions to the planet remain murky. During his tenure, President Obama fixed the US space agency’s focus on Mars and beyond, hoping to have NASA missions orbiting the planet and landing crewed missions on asteroids by 2030 and 2025, respectively. Contrastingly, the Trump Administration has emphasised the importance of establishing a greater American presence on the Moon.

With funding for NASA as a percent of the federal budget at an all-time low and shifting goals from the executive branch, further near-term exploration of Mars and beyond might be replaced by manned lunar missions. Going forward, expect more cuts to NASA’s deep-space exploration and earth science programs, the latter of which are crucial for monitoring the effects of climate change.