NASA prepares to bid goodbye to Mars InSight lander

by IANS |

Washington, Nov 2 (IANS) NASA's Mars InSight lander is set to fall silent in the next few weeks, ending its history-making mission to reveal secrets of the Red Planet's interior.

The spacecraft's power generation continues to decline as windblown dust on its solar panels thickens, so the team has taken steps to continue as long as possible with what power remains, the US space agency said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The most important of the final steps with the InSight mission is storing its trove of data and making it accessible to researchers around the world.

The lander data has yielded details about Mars' interior layers, its liquid core, the surprisingly variable remnants beneath the surface of its mostly extinct magnetic field, weather on this part of Mars, and lots of quake activity.

InSight's seismometer has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes since the lander touched down in November 2018, the largest measuring a magnitude 5.

"Finally, we can see Mars as a planet with layers, with different thicknesses, compositions. We're starting to really tease out the details. Now it's not just this enigma; it's actually a living, breathing planet," said Bruce Banerdt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Earlier this summer, the lander had so little remaining power that the mission turned off all of InSight's other science instruments in order to keep the seismometer running.

They even turned off the fault protection system that would otherwise automatically shut down the seismometer if the system detects that the lander's power generation is dangerously low.

"We were down to less than 20 per cent of the original generating capacity," said Banerdt. "That means we can't afford to run the instruments around the clock."

NASA will declare the mission over when InSight misses two consecutive communication sessions with the spacecraft orbiting Mars, part of the Mars Relay Network.

There will be no heroic measures to re-establish contact with InSight.

In the meantime, as long as InSight remains in contact, the team will continue gathering data.

Latest News
Kim Jong-un visits barracks with daughter to mark army founding anniversary Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 12:15 PM
Man admits to killing Indian student in Australia Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 12:09 PM
Furious Shiv Sena (UBT) flays attack on Aditya Thackeray's motorcade Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 12:05 PM
BJP MP faces flak from Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar in Rajya Sabha Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 11:58 AM
Curtailing pollution must to reduce superbugs: UN report Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 11:46 AM
PVL: 'No pressure' on Kolkata Thunderbolts as captain Ashwal Rai eyes 2nd win of season Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 11:43 AM
LinkedIn crosses 100 mn members in India, its 2nd largest market Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 11:36 AM
Volkswagen recalls 21K electric SUVs over faulty battery software Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 11:27 AM
Pakistan bars 190 Hindus from travelling to India Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 11:26 AM
Teachers' scam: ED identifies lottery angle for conversion of unaccounted money Wed, Feb 08, 2023, 11:24 AM
Cow found slaughtered in Delhi, FIR lodged Tue, Feb 07, 2023, 05:00 PM
India adopting environment-friendly growth as development model: Sultan Al Jaber Tue, Feb 07, 2023, 05:00 PM
Apple cuts iPhone 14 models prices by up to $125 in China to boost sales Tue, Feb 07, 2023, 04:59 PM
Shubman Gill, Siraj in shortlist for Men's Player of the Month for January 2023 Tue, Feb 07, 2023, 04:54 PM
Philippine rescue team heading to quake-hit Turkey Tue, Feb 07, 2023, 04:36 PM