The next NASA robot to touch down on the surface of Mars will soon begin taking shape.
NASA's InSight Mars lander, which is scheduled to launch toward the Red Planet in March 2016, passed a key design review Friday (May 16), clearing the way for construction of the spacecraft to begin.
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"Our partners across the globe have made significant progress in getting to this point and are fully prepared to deliver their hardware to system integration starting this November, which is the next major milestone for the project," InSight project manager Tom Hoffman, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. [Images: NASA's InSight Mars Lander Mission]
"We now move from doing the design and analysis to building and testing the hardware and software that will get us to Mars and collect the science that we need to achieve mission success," Hoffman added.
The $425 million InSight mission - whose name is short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - will measure heat flow from the planet's interior and study the motion of seismic waves generated by "Marsquakes" and meteorite impacts.