NASA’s decision to choose yet another Mars lander for its 12th Discovery-class mission is unimaginative. While the chosen mission dubbed Mars Insight lander will, no doubt, produce interesting science with respect to the internal structure of Mars, the planet has, in a way, had too much time spent on it.  NASA should note that there are other planetary bodies in the solar system to explore.  Similarly NASA should note that it is usually the new and daring missions which result in new science and new techniques being discovered rather than those from the “play safe” category missions.   

 

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Images of Saturn as seen from the oceans of its moon Titan could have been breathtaking – if only NASA had been braver in taking the plunge

One of the missions that Mars Insight beat to the money was the Comet Hopper mission – a proposed spacecraft planned to land on multiple comets,  Even more exciting was the Titan Maritime Explorer, a mission to actually sail a ship on the methane oceans of another world.  It was also rejected on the grounds that it was more risky and less likely to come in within budget. 

Perhaps there was logic in the final choice but it has to be said that sometimes the beancounters cause boredom. And with a lack of interest from the public, the less likely will it be that they will be willing to use their taxes to fund space exploration in future.