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Space & Astronomy

NASA InSight lander is running out of power

By T.K. Randall
May 18, 2022 · Comment icon 11 comments

It is the beginning of the end for the InSight lander. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
The space probe, which landed in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars in 2018, is now in its final months.
Known as InSight (which stands for 'Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport'), the spacecraft has provided scientists with a wealth of information over the years.

Its primary instrument - a seismometer known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (or SEIS) - is designed to measure seismic activity on Mars and it has certainly achieved that goal, having detected several quakes including a Magnitude 5 tremor (the largest so far) which was picked up very recently.

Unfortunately, however, the solar panels necessary to produce the electricity needed by the probe have become so covered in dust that it looks as though the mission's days are now numbered.
The seismometer can continue to operate for a while, however other systems are being permanently powered down and within a few months the probe will be no longer able to function at all.

"[In July] we anticipate our seismometer to be turned off, not because we want to turn it off but unfortunately we don't have the energy to run it," said deputy project manager Kathya Zamora Garcia.

"At the end of the calendar year, we do anticipate having to conclude all InSight operations."

Source: BBC News | Comments (11)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Audio Imagez 2 years ago
Didn't they clean them off using sand before?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Rolci 2 years ago
These NASA people are one smart bunch aren't they? Solar panels covered in dust halt the mission? That they couldn't anticipate? Was this the first probe they ever sent to Mars? Shouldn't they just have installed wipers on those panels, like on a windscreen? I must be missing something here...
Comment icon #4 Posted by Still Waters 2 years ago
More: NASA's InSight lander: The lonely fate of a robot on Mars The InSight lander will be sleeping, and it could wake up some time in the future. The instruments will be turned off and it will enter a mode where it's no longer even awake in a way that we could talk to it routinely. But the operations team can put software in place such that if it were to regain power, by, say, the solar panels being cleared by a strong gust of wind, there would be a way for us to communicate with it, or the lander could message us.
Comment icon #5 Posted by jmccr8 2 years ago
Hi Acute And a squeegee to clean the dust off the solar panels.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Still Waters 1 year ago
NASA Mars lander InSight falls silent after four years It could be the end of the red dusty line for NASA's InSight lander, which has fallen silent after four years on Mars. The lander's power levels have been dwindling for months because of all the dust coating its solar panels. Ground controllers at California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory knew the end was near, but NASA reported that InSight unexpectedly didn't respond to communications from Earth on Sunday. "It's assumed InSight may have reached the end of its operations," NASA said late Monday, adding that its last communication was Thurs... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by EBE Hybrid 1 year ago
Maybe, one day, the mars ingenuity helicopter could hover over the solar panels and blow the dust off
Comment icon #8 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 1 year ago
Hindsight is 20-20, eh?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Hammerclaw 1 year ago
On the bright side, it's only one cleaning event away from becoming fully operational. Fingers crossed!
Comment icon #10 Posted by pellinore 1 year ago
Yep, it's rocket science.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Rolci 1 year ago
Exactly. They should've learned by now, no?

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