‘My power’s really low’: says NASA Insight on Mars getting ready to leave the Red Planet. Let’s see what happened to NASA’s Mars InSight lander in detail.
InSight’s Final Message
The InSight lander from NASA has sent what may be its last transmission from Mars, where it has been on a historic mission to learn more about the interior of the Red Planet.
The space agency issued a warning in November that the lander’s time may be running out as dust continued to gather and suffocate the InSight’s power.
The day is coming when I’ll fall silent, ending my nearly four Earth years (over two Mars years) of studying the Red Planet. As my time winds down on Mars, my team is helping make sure scientists can get the most out of everything I’ve gathered.
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) November 1, 2022
On Monday, the NASA InSight Twitter account posted the following message:
“My power’s really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me.”
My power’s really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me. pic.twitter.com/wkYKww15kQ
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) December 19, 2022
Early this year, the InSight operations team began laying the groundwork for the lander’s end by turning off the most power-hungry components and safeguarding the data it had gathered over the previous four years.
In November 2018, the robotic geologist first landed on the barren expanse of Elysium Planitia, carrying a hammer and a quake monitor.
Since then, it has conducted geologic explorations and used a cutting-edge seismometer that was set up right on the Martian surface to record the first readings of marsquakes.
Last month, the solar-powered lander published an update in which it reflected on its time in orbit.
“I’ve been lucky enough to live on two planets. Four years ago, I arrived safely at the second one, to the delight of my family back on the first. Thanks to my team for sending me on this journey of discovery. Hope I’ve done you proud.”
Jim Green, the chief scientist at NASA, stated that the mission’s
“fundamental importance to understand the origin of our solar system and how it became the way it is today,”
before its 2018 launch.
Preserving InSight’s data
The lander has shed light on Mars’ liquid core and the makeup of its various inner layers since it arrived in November 2018.
More than 1,300 earthquakes have been found on the planet, including one with a magnitude of 5 in May.
In a statement last month, Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California stated,
“Finally, we can see Mars as a planet with layers, with different thicknesses, compositions.”
“We’re starting to tease out the details. Now it’s not just this enigma; it’s a living, breathing planet.”
The primary goal of the lander was completed in the first two years. Initially producing around 5,000 watt-hours every sol, or Martian day, a pair of 7-foot-wide solar panels last month were only producing about 500 watt-hours per sol due to dust buildup.
As the InSight mission nears its conclusion, it is crucial to make sure that the wealth of data contained in the lander is properly stored and made available to academics all around the world.
The InSight lander has collected information about the layers that make up Mars’ interior, the planet’s liquid core, the last of Mars’ magnetic field’s subsurface remains, Martian weather, and marsquakes.
I’m getting close to the end here, due to dust gathering on my solar panels, making it hard to generate power. People often ask: don’t I have a way to dust myself off (wiper, blower, etc.)? It’s a fair question, and the short answer is this: (🧵) pic.twitter.com/fbFjj4AXf3
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) November 10, 2022
Insight’s Last selfie
The last selfie taken by the InSight lander is one from April 24, 2022, according to NASA. The Mars emissary is in its closing days, with dust covering its solar panels.
To conserve energy and give the marsquake-finding seismometer priority, NASA shut off equipment.
NASA’s InSight rover captured this ‘selfie’ on April 24, 2022.
InSight was a successful mission after landing in 2018 and learning new details about Mars’ innards.
Insight Death Certificate
When the lander misses two consecutive connection attempts with a spacecraft orbiting Mars, NASA will declare the InSight mission.
The agency’s Deep Space Network will then keep looking for signals for a brief time.
I’ve been lucky enough to live on two planets. Four years ago, I arrived safely at the second one, to the delight of my family back on the first. Thanks to my team for sending me on this journey of discovery. Hope I’ve done you proud.
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) November 26, 2022
This is just in case something happens that saves the mission, like a powerful wind gust that blows the dust off the panel. Although such an occurrence is not completely unheard of, NASA rates it as improbable.
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