The first mission dedicated to the study of the internal structure of Mars is coming to an end. The fault of the Martian dust. “I’m nearing the end here, due to the buildup of dust on my solar panels making it difficult to generate electricity”wrote the managers of the InSight rover on Twitter.
The official Insight account on Twitter has a community of nearly 800,000 people who have been following NASA’s adventures on Martian soil for 4 years. In the first person, the many tweets published over time have created a real connection with the Earth (in addition to the Mars 2020 mission with Perseverance). Today, everything stops. “Thank you for staying with me”added InSight on December 19.
In reality, the breakdown of communications with the base took place on December 15th. In a blog post, NASA presumes that the equipment on the device permanently ceased all activity on Sunday, December 18, a time during which ground (earth) crews continued to attempt to contact the device. If in doubt, they will continue to make attempts, because InSight may have encountered a problem that does not concern its batteries.
I’m getting close to the end here, due to dust gathering on my solar panels, making it hard to generate power. People often ask: don’t I have a way to dust myself off (wiper, blower, etc.)? It’s a fair question, and the short answer is this: (🧵) pic.twitter.com/fbFjj4AXf3
—NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) November 10, 2022
500 recorded earthquakes
For 4 years, Insight has known many adventures. Because on Mars, calm is only theoretical. At the end of its journey, the rover recorded no less than 500 earthquakes and at least one meteorite impact. For this, a seismic device was installed on the ground, to study the seismic activity and allow to imagine a 3D model of the structure of the red planet.
During his stay, he will also have discussed temperature with a device (thermal probe) dedicated to measuring heat transfer. Relevant monitoring to derive discoveries around the early formation of Mars. Another device was dedicated to wind measurement.
From research into the secret of the process that led to the formation of our planets more than 4 billion years ago, to the Twitter logbook, InSight will also come to end a mission that began in 2018 with a delay two years. Initially, its launch was to be effective in 2016 but a problem with an instrument caused it to miss its launch window. The error was very expensive: between 675 and 830 million dollars according to information made public.
Note that NASA is not the only agency to have embarked on InSight. For example, the seismic measuring instrument was provided by the French CNES (National Center for Space Studies). The thermal probe, for its part, came from the German Aerospace Center.