When planning a mission to Mars, one must first of all take into account the fact that there is a lot of dust on the Red Planet, which can destroy any equipment. Earlier this month, NASA was worried that they would have to stop scientific research on the InSight mission. The fact is that too much dust formed on the lander, and this led to a decrease in the power level of the solar panels. The spacecraft, which arrived on Mars in November 2018 to study the planet’s seismic activity, currently does not receive enough energy to continue normal operation.
Scientist Paul Byrne showed a collage of two InSight photos based on official NASA images. The first was made on the 10th day of the spacecraft’s stay on Mars, and the second – 1201 days later. They show how much InSight was covered with Martian dust. Apparently, these are the last days of the InSight module.
The mission team expects InSight to be completely inoperable by December of this year, so all scientific research will be completed this summer. The module’s solar panels, which used to generate 5,000 Wh of energy per day, can now only produce about 500 Wh. And this number is decreasing day by day. NASA hoped that dust storms would help clean up the spacecraft’s solar panels, as happened with the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The robotic arm that was used to clean the panels from dust did not help either. Now scientists want to save the remaining energy in order to use the seismometer.
The InSight has already outlived its intended lifespan. Among his major achievements is the discovery that the Martian core is much smaller than previously thought. The device detected more than 1300 marsquakes, including the most powerful to date. This seismic activity has allowed scientists to learn more about the internal structure of the Red Planet.
Source: Trash Box