Curiosity on Mars. Who / what will be next?
There is no limit to knowledge, in our world this limit is limited either by the capabilities of the tools and methods used to obtain knowledge, or by the finances necessary to create those very tools. So far, NASA is fine with both tools and finances (everything is relative, of course, funding is constantly being cut). And so NASA scientists can plan to continue the study of Mars, completing the project to create a new generation of apparatus. He has even been given a name: InSight.
The new device will differ significantly from Curiosity, but this difference is not in a more advanced design or the number of scientific tools introduced by the developers into the system. No, it will be a relatively simple lander whose purpose is to study, as far as possible, the geological structure of Mars. For example, try to obtain data on the presence or absence of lithospheric plates (according to some reports, Mars has it, according to others - not).
As in the case of similar projects, equipment for InSight will be provided by the international scientific community, and not just by American organizations. So, the French will provide a tool to catch even the most inconspicuous marquakes. Based on these data, very interesting conclusions can be drawn. The Germans will provide a drilling tool that allows you to find out what is the structure of the surface rocks of Mars at a depth of 10 meters. Jet Engine Laboratory (USA) will present a manipulator and some cameras.
It is worth noting that the cost of this project is much lower than the cost of the project to create and deliver Curiosity to Mars. The total amount allocated for the implementation of the InSight project is only 425 million (everything is relatively finite, but by the standards of the aerospace industry this amount is small).
InSight will be created on the basis of its ancestor, Phoenix, this device was widely heard back in 2008. The differences will not be very large, and InSight will also be static, it will not move on the surface of the planet. So there are no more "sky cranes", no airbags. Everything is simple and practical. InSight's flight to Mars will take place no earlier than March 2016. Primarsion, if held, then in September. The design period of operation of the device is two years.