In an image from 2009, Saturn's moon Tethys -- with its prominent Odysseus… (NASA/JPL/Space Science…)
Curiosity just landed and, guess what: NASA wants to do it all over again. InSight, a mission to study the interior of Mars, has been approved by NASA with a planned launch of March 2016.
This wasn't the only proposal that NASA considered -- there was a push to explore Titan, a moon orbiting Saturn, as well as a proposal to send a spacecraft to land on a comet.
A Titan trip could have been pretty exciting. The moon is the largest of those orbiting Saturn and its atmosphere is impenetrable by telescopes and cameras, NASA explains. Scientists are drawn to it because it's the only moon in the solar system that has clouds and a "planet-like atmosphere."
PHOTOS: History of Mars exploration
Pictures of Titan from the Hubble Space Telescope in 1994 gave the impression that there was a large "continent," but scientists couldn't determine from the photos if there were liquid seas. Considering that the temperature is thought to be nearly minus-300 degrees Fahrenheit, one would think any water would be solid ice.
It's a mystery -- which won't be solved in 2016.
The upcoming mission will look at the interior of Mars, as Los Angeles Times science writer Amina Khan reported Tuesday:
"InSight's instruments will be designed to pick up any seismic activity rumbling through the planet; take note of any meteor impacts on the surface; burrow as much as 16 feet deep to study how heat flows underground; and measure how Mars' two moons exert tidal forces on the planet, causing it to stretch one way or another."
The decision on this second Mars mission predated the Curiosity rover landing.
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, told Khan that NASA wanted to keep the two decisions separate.
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