The mission is known as the Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) mission. The goal of the project is to
The InSight mission is currently scheduled to launch in March 2016. After arriving at Mars half a year later a lander will be deployed to the red planet's surface. Once there, the lander will use a tool known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to study the interior of Mars.
The SEIS instrument is capable of measuring tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars. Researchers hope the data gathered by the lander will help inform research into how rocky planets first form.
"This new agreement strengthens the partnership between NASA and CNES in planetary science research, and builds on more than 20 years of cooperation with CNES on Mars exploration," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator. "The research generated by this collaborative mission will give our agencies more information about the early formation of Mars, which will help us understand more about how Earth evolved."
NASA is the latest agency to sign on for the SEIS project. The German Aerospace Center, the UK Space Agency, the Swiss Space Office, and the ESA all have a hand in the project, and the InSight mission includes researchers from all over Europe, North America, and Japan.
Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech