Lockheed Martin has entered the final production stage of a new Mars lander that is scheduled for launch by NASA in March 2016.
The company said Monday its technicians will integrate avionics, power, telecommunication, navigation, control, guidance and thermal systems in the InSight spacecraft during the six-month assembly phase.
“Physically, InSight looks very much like the Phoenix lander we built, but most of the electronic components are similar to what is currently flying on the MAVEN spacecraft,” said Stu Path, Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ InSight program manager.
InSight will undergo environmental testing next summer before its 2016 liftoff.
The project aims to examine the interior of the Martian surface and give scientists insight on the evolution of the Red Planet as well as other terrestrial planets.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the program and will provide a geodetic tool intended to determine Mars’ rotation axis, a robotic arm and two camera systems for the lander.
The InSight scientific team is comprised of U.S. and foreign academic, industry and government researchers.