A death certificate for “Insight” on Mars
The US space agency has closed its eyes on the surface of Mars, after the end of the mission of NASA’s InSight spacecraft.
The mission of the spacecraft (Insight) ended after it completely ran out of power for the first time in more than four years since it began its work on the surface of the Red Planet.
Mission Insight controllers were unable to communicate with the lander,” leading them to conclude that the spacecraft’s solar-powered batteries were dead.
But NASA has vowed to continue listening for any signals from it, although further contacts are considered unlikely.
The last time InSight made contact with Earth was on December 15.
The Insight team had previously predicted that the lander would be “inoperable” by this month because its solar panels produce increasingly less power as it continues to accumulate dust.
InSight arrived at Mars in November 2018 to study seismic waves, which help scientists better understand how planets form.
Two papers published in the journal Science detail meteor strikes on Mars discovered by Insight in September and December last year.
The seismic waves generated by the strikes revealed new details about the structure of Mars’ crust, the planet’s outer layer.
InSight is designed for long-term operation. The fixed lander is equipped with solar panels, each 7 feet (2 meters) wide. But the panels gradually reduce their power output as dust settles on them.
It was hoped that the passing dust vortices, or what is known as the “dust imp”, would clean the solar panels, but although Insight has discovered hundreds of them, none have been close enough to clean these dinner-table-sized panels since the probe launched on Mars. In November 2018.