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  1. ITV Report

Another NASA Mars mission to scratch below the surface

Just weeks after sucessfully landing its Curiosity rover, NASA says it will send another robot to Mars in 2016.

NASA's proposed InSight lander Credit: Reuters/NASA

Scientists want to find out how the planet was formed which will also give them clues as to how the Earth was created.

The new probe will focus on what is happening deep inside the core of Mars.

  • The solar-powered lander, called InSight, will include a French-built seismometer to determine if Mars has 'Marsquakes'
  • It will also have a thermometer to measure how much heat is coming from the planet's core

This is something that has interested the scientific community for many years. Seismology is the standard method by which we've learned to understand the interior of the Earth and we have no such knowledge for Mars.

– John Grunsfeld, NASA
Mars as seen from the Hubble telescope Credit: NASA

While the lander will not be as sophisticated as Curiosity, it will have a German-built drill that can penetrate 30 feet into the planet's surface.

The latest project competed against two other proposed missions for $425 million in NASA funding.

The other contenders were: a project to explore a liquid methane lake on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn; and a robotic hopper that would sprint around the surface of a comet measuring how sunlight changes the surface.

The lander will be designed to last two years.