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Space & Astronomy

InSight Mars lander signs off with poignant final photo and message

By T.K. Randall
December 22, 2022 · Comment icon 11 comments
Final image taken by NASA's InSight lander.
It's the end of an era for NASA's InSight mission. Image Credit: Twitter / NASA InSight
After four years of activity on the surface of Mars, NASA's InSight mission has finally come to an end.
The lander (the name of which meaning 'Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport'), 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 which was picked up relatively recently.

Earlier this year, though, it became apparent that the solar panels necessary to produce the electricity needed by the probe had become so covered in dust that it would soon be unable to function.

Now, following two failed attempts to communicate with the probe, NASA has finally declared that the InSight mission has officially come to an end some 7 days after it last received a message.

"I watched the launch and landing of this mission, and while saying goodbye to a spacecraft is always sad, the fascinating science InSight conducted is cause for celebration," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
"The seismic data alone from this Discovery Program mission offers tremendous insights not just into Mars but other rocky bodies, including Earth."

Particularly poignant was the final message Tweeted by the mission's official Twitter account:

"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."

A final photograph, which shows the probe's dust-covered apparatus, was also included.

Source: NASA | 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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