Someone tell Elon Musk to strap the Boring Company aboard his next SpaceX rocket, because NASA might need some help with their next endeavor. The space agency is moving forward with plans to make their next mission to Mars a very Jules Verne-sounding journey to the center of the Red Planet.
Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. (aka InSight) will be the first mission to focus on looking at what lies beneath the surface of Mars in the hopes of understanding how our very own rocky planet was formed. “Because the interior of Mars has churned much less than Earth’s in the past three billion years, Mars likely preserves evidence about rocky planets’ infancy better than our home planet does,” said InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who is leading the team. (Guessing Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson were busy.) They will plant a lander near Mars’s equator before using a robotic arm to embed a seismometer and a heat probe into Mars’s surface. They will also start monitoring radio transmissions between Earth and Mars. They aren’t looking for signs of intelligent life in the universe (or intergalactic Coldplay fans), but to “assess perturbations in how Mars rotates on its axis, which are clues about the size of the planet’s core,” according to a press release.
This latest mission will take off in May 2018, and will continue to lay the groundwork to send humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s. Perhaps Brendan Fraser will be available then.