NASA’s InSight mission has ended after four years on the surface of Mars. A work that has tracked more than 1,300 earthquakes and meteorite impacts, and contributed to the theory that the Red Planet is little more than a frozen desert with a heart of stone. However, in recent days, mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have been unable to establish contact with the probe after two attempts, leading them to conclude that the spacecraft’s solar batteries have run out.
Although NASA will continue to watch for any signal from the module, it considered it “unlikely that there is a signal from it” after its last communication on 15 December. The most likely theory is that Martian dust has completely covered the solar panels, preventing the probe from charging its batteries.
The InSight module landed on Mars in 2018 and was designed to carry out scientific activities for two years, a useful life that it has far exceeded. It also made discoveries as dust on its solar panels slowly reduced its power levels, data scientists will use for years, NASA reports.
the agency’s science mission director, thomas zurbuchen, said that although “although it is always sad to say goodbye to a spacecraft, the fascinating science that InSight has achieved is cause for celebration.” Zurbuchen noted, in particular, the seismic data collected by this mission, which “in themselves provide vast knowledge not only about Mars, but also about other rocky bodies, including Earth.”
Details about the inner layers of Mars
InSight began studying the interior of Mars, and its data has provided details about its interior layers, weather, and much of its seismic activity. Its highly sensitive seismometers, along with daily ground-based monitoring, detected 1,319 marsquakes, including those caused by meteorite impacts, the largest of which was detected late last year the size of an ice boulder.
These impacts help scientists determine the age of the planet’s surface, and seismometer data provide a way to study the planet’s crust, mantle and core.
In fact, the seismometer was the last scientific instrument that remained as dust settled on the lander’s solar panels and slowly sapped their power.
problem with mechanical drill
All missions to Mars face challenges, and InSight was no different, NASA recalls, referring to its mechanical drill, designed to drill down to about five meters deep and measure the heat. Designed for the loose, sandy soil of other missions, it could not haul the unpredictable lumpy soil surrounding InSight, so it only went up to 16 inches, although it collected “valuable data on the soil’s physical and thermal properties”. . ,” which is useful for future missions.
At the end of the mission, the principal investigator Bruce Bannertof JPL, said: “We’ve thought of InSight as our friend and colleague on Mars for the past four years, so it’s hard to say goodbye,” but “it has earned its well-deserved retirement.”
The InSight mission had several European partners, including the Spanish Center for Astrobiology (CAB), which provided wind and temperature sensors.