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Mars probe "Insight" is running out of power: NASA doesn't expect more information soon

Mars probe “Insight” is running out of power: NASA doesn’t expect more information soon

The power supply becomes a problem
Not much time left for the Mars InSight rover.

NASA’s Insight probe has been on the surface of Mars since 2018. But it’s slowly weakening. NASA expects that information from Insight will not come for much longer.

NASA’s Insight probe, which landed on Mars in 2018, is running out of capacity. The US space agency said, “NASA’s Mars lander (InSight) is gradually deteriorating and is expected to halt scientific operations this summer.”

The team expects it to be rendered inoperable by December, completing its mission to the Red Planet. The stationary probe arrived at Mars nearly four years ago to measure seismic activity.

He achieved his science goals after just over two years, and has even been on an “extended mission” ever since. Recently, however, the power supply has obviously decreased because the two solar modules with a width of 2.2 m are covered with increasingly dense dust.

Duplicate cleaning action

The fact that this didn’t happen earlier is also due to a trick NASA engineers used: they used a robotic arm on the probe to disperse sand near a solar cell. When the wind blew on the solar cell, it also took some of the dust with it – and the solar cell was able to continue to power the probe.

Exactly when InSight turns its instrumentation off is not entirely known because it depends on weather, spacecraft performance, and other factors that are difficult to quantify, Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at a press conference. “The probe has exceeded our expectations in almost every step of the way on the surface of Mars, so it may be able to last much longer,” Banerdt said.

InSight landed on the Red Planet in November 2018 and took unprecedented measurements of seismic activity on Mars. Bannerdt said the mission allowed scientists to determine the thickness of the shell and the size of the core. This is the icing on the cake. “We had a very vague picture of what was going on inside Mars, and I think Insight’s real contribution is that we can now draw a quantitatively accurate picture of the interior,” he said.

(This article was first published on Thursday, May 19, 2022.)

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