NASA will soon deposit the Insight lander on Mars

Mariella Moon

NASA agency Mars lander InSight almost can no longer To send data and images that scientists can analyze to better understand the Red Planet. It’s been gradually losing power for a while now as dust continues to build up on the solar panels. The dark sky expected in the next few months – also because there is more dust in the air – will not do that either. InSight’s solar panels used to be able to generate about 5,000 watt-hours of energy each Mars day, enough to power an electric furnace for 1 hour and 40 minutes. These days, they can only produce approximately 500 watt-hours of power for each Martian day, enough to run an electric furnace for 10 minutes at most.

The space agency believes that the probe will not be able to maintain its seismometer by the end of summer, putting an end to its science activities. InSight’s non-seismic instruments will occasionally turn on after May, but NASA expects it to become completely unresponsive around December. The only way to prevent these events is for the probe to encounter a powerful dust-cleaning phenomenon, such as a dust demon. Removing up to 25 percent of dust from the spacecraft’s solar panels will allow the spacecraft to continue its science activities.

The InSight lander arrived at Mars in November 2018 and has spent the past few years gathering Information about swamps To help us measure the depth and composition of the planet’s crust, mantle and core. It has a robotic arm that was used to deploy the seismometer and heat probe, which was also used single use To clean some dust from the solar panels. InSight’s ground team will put its arm into “retirement mode” for the last time later this month.

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Laurie Glaese, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said:

“InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and paved the way for future missions. We can apply what we have learned about the internal structure of Mars to Earth, the Moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems.”

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