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NASA has a plan to fix Mars lander for 2018

Image: Insight Mars lander
This artist’s conception shows the InSight lander on Mars. The SEIS instrument is deployed to the right of the lander, while a subsurface heat probe is buried at left. (Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech)

NASA says it’s worked out a plan to redesign a faulty instrument on its InSight lander in time to send it to Mars in 2018.

The lander had been scheduled for liftoff this month from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but in December, mission managers said they had to scratch the launch off their schedule because they couldn’t fix the instrument in time.

InSight is designed to monitor seismic activity deep beneath Mars’ surface. The mission’s name comes from a quasi-acronym for “Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.” Studying the Martian subsurface could provide insights into the planet’s evolution and current geological activity.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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