In 2018, NASA hopes to put a robot spacecraft on Mars in an attempt to understand how the Red Planet, Earth and other rocky planets are born.
NASA has made about a dozen and a half successful voyages to Mars since the 1960s. However, the robot on this trip will be the first to have two particular technologies designed to understand what goes on under the surface of the planet, Sue Smrekar, the deputy principal investigator of the mission, dubbed "InSight," tells CNBC Make It.
"We have yet to look inside of Mars. We have only seen less than one percent of Mars," says Smrekar. "What we are going to do now is look under the hood. We are going to look at the rest of Mars, the other 99.9 percent that we have never seen before."
A hypersensitive seismometer, which measures tremors in the ground, and a heat flow probe, which measures the temperature, will travel to Mars on a lander (a stationary spacecraft robot, as opposed to a rover, which moves around the surface on wheels) and will give NASA new insight into how Mars was created, says Smrekar, who works at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif.