After a long battle with Martian dust, NASA’s InSight probe has gone quiet

After a long battle with Martian dust, NASA’s InSight probe has gone quiet

After a long battle with Martian dust, NASA’s InSight probe has gone quiet

After a long battle with Martian dust, NASA’s InSight probe has gone quiet
Enlarge / This is probably the last image taken by InSight on the surface of Mars and sent back to Earth.

NASA

NASA’s InSight lander has probably called home from the planet Mars for the last time.

The space agency said the spacecraft failed to respond to communications from Earth on Sunday, Dec. 18. The lack of communications came as the lander’s power generation capacity declined in recent months due to the buildup of dust from Mars on its solar arrays. NASA said it is “assumed” that InSight has reached the end of its operations, but will continue to try to contact the lander in the coming days.

Also on Monday, the InSight Twitter account shared a photo with a message saying it was probably the last photo it sent from Mars.

InSight landed on Mars in 2018 to study seismic activity. It’s been a success: InSight detected more than 1,300 marsquakes, including a relatively powerful magnitude 4.7 earthquake on May 4. This was the largest marsquake yet detected and at the upper limit of what scientists hoped to observe. This seismic activity has allowed scientists to unravel details about the red planet’s inner structure.

However, during its operations on Mars, dust has steadily accumulated on the stationary lander’s solar panels. In May 2022, the panels produced just 500 watt-hours of energy, one-tenth of what they could generate upon landing on Mars. Since then, energy levels have steadily declined to the point where InSight no longer has the power necessary to transmit back to Earth by radio.

Saying goodbye to spacecraft like InSight is always difficult. Humans send these robotic probes into the frigid depths of the solar system to advance our scientific understanding. During that time, they shine brightly for a few years. And then they’re gone.

Look, I’m not sure why you have water running out of your eyes. But speaking for myself, that’s Martian dust that brings tears to my eyes. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.





#long #battle #Martian #dust #NASAs #InSight #probe #quiet

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *