NASA Calls Off Next Mars Probe Mission Due to Instrument Leak

NASA has called off its next Mars mission because of a leak in a science instrument.

The Insight spacecraft was supposed to take off in March and land on the red planet next year. But NASA said Tuesday that managers have suspended the launch because of an air leak in one of two prime science instruments, a seismometer which belongs to the French Space Agency. It was supposed to ship to the Southern California launch site next month.

NASA said attempts to fix the leak have failed.

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The lander is designed to examine the geology of Mars in depth.

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The cancellation raises questions about the future of the research effort, as it will be another two years before Earth and Mars are favorably aligned for a launch.

Over the next couple of months, NASA will assess options for repairing the faulty instrument, a sensitive seismometer that was provided by the French space agency, CNES. Budgetary limits may factor into a pending decision on whether NASA will proceed with the program.