NASA releases last bleak photo of doomed Mars lander
“Imagine how quiet, how empty it is. How lonely.”
Against all odds, NASA’s Mars lander has somehow moved on — but its inevitable death finally seems near.
“This is almost the end,” tweeted planetary scientist Paul Byrne alongside the latest (and likely last) photo of the InSight lander, which the small craft could capture on Oct. 30.
This is probably the last photo that the @NASAInSight mission will ever send home.
The photo was taken on Sunday, October 30, 2022 at 5:20 PM local time.
With its solar panels covered in dust, Insight is not expected to last more than a few weeks.
This is almost the end. pic.twitter.com/YHe0UNaA4g
— Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) Nov 3, 2022
The Lander’s Journey So Far – From His almost declared dead in the summer of 2021 after NASA has taken emergency measures to store it that spring, to the agency that officially announced they… essentially place a “Do Not CPR” order on it in May of this year, just for the carry on with life so far – was nothing short of amazing.
It is clearly also inspired poetry.
“Understanding is in Elysium Planitia, a vast equatorial plain,” said Byrne, an associate professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at St. Louis’ Washington University, continued. “An absolutely barren, desolate place. Just look at that photo. Imagine how quiet, how empty it is. How lonely.”
Byrne is not alone in being driven to flowery language when describing InSight, either.
“The day will come when I will be silent and put an end to my nearly four Earth years (more than two Mars years) of studying the Red Planet,” NASA’s InSight Twitter Account Posted, in the first person as the lander. “As my time on Mars draws to a close, my team is helping to ensure that scientists can make the most of everything I’ve collected.”
Indeed, “the mission was planned to last one Earth year”, the planetary scientist tweeted. “It took four.”
The lander’s biggest mission before its final deployment is, by NASAto store all the data it has collected about the core of Mars and its seismic wave activity.
As noble as that mission is, the scientists who work with InSight can’t help but talk about it quickly.
“We’re pushing it to the end,” Liz Barrett, chief of the science and operations team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in NASA’s press release.
Soon the lights will go out for InSight – and it will have a surprising number of mourners when that day finally comes.
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