The French-built instrument for NASA’s InSight Mars lander scheduled for launch in March is expected to be repaired in time for shipment to the United States in early January after developing a leak in its vacuum container, the president of the French space agency, CNES, said Dec. 8.
Briefing reporters here at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Jean-Yves Le Gall said the leak, which compromised the required high-precision vacuum chamber carrying InSight sensors, was caused by a defective weld that is applied to close off the tank.
The leak’s cause has been identified and a new weld performed, Le Gall said. Tests to confirm the new weld’s integrity are underway and, assuming no problems, will be completed in time to ship the instrument to the United States in the first week of January. It will then be integrated into the InSight lander in preparation for the March launch.