Despite its immense power, NASA’s Mars Insight probe is determined to squeeze as much science as possible down to the last minute.

Solar panels are dusty and batteries are running low on power, but NASA’s Mars Insight lander continues to collect more scientific data about the Red Planet until its final beep. To conserve power, InSight was expected to shut down the seismometer, the last operational science instrument, in late June, hoping to maintain its remaining strength through December. The main instrument designed to measure earthquakes has been the seismometer, which has been recording since landing on Mars in 2018, recently recording a magnitude 5.0 earthquake. the biggest so far.

NASA’s Mars Insight lander captured this latest selfie on April 24, 2022, the mission’s first and twelfth days on Mars, or Sun Day. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

But instead of shutting down this key instrument, the team now plans to time the probe to run the seismometer for longer, possibly until late August or early September. Doing so will drain the probe’s batteries sooner and cause the spacecraft to run out of power then, too, but could allow the seismometer to detect more earthquakes.

“Insight isn’t done teaching us about Mars yet,” said Laurie Glaese, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington. “We’ll have the last piece of science we can get before the probe ends its operations.”

NASA’s Insight lander launched from Vandenburg AFB on May 5, 2018 and touched down at Elysium Planitia, Mars on November 26, 2018, and it’s safe to say that its time on Mars was fruitful. what that scientific goals It included the study of how rocky planets formed and evolved, as well as the tectonics of Mars today. During his adventure, InSight managed to detect the first earthquake on another planet; He gathered new information about the three main layers of Mars: the crust, the mantle and the core. the discovery of traces of an ancient “frozen” magnetic field in the rocks of the earth’s crust; He studied dust devils and other atmospheric and meteorological data.

Unfortunately, Mars is a dusty place and this has proven to be a problem for the lander. Since InSight is solar powered, any obstructions to the solar panels will certainly reduce the amount of sunlight they receive to continue operating. While the previous rover was like an opportunity Blessed with earth demons By cleaning its solar panels, allowing them to stay powered for years beyond its initially scheduled 90-day mission, InSight did not receive the same gift. The lander is now covered in much more dust than either its first selfie, taken in December 2018 shortly after landing, or a second selfie, made up of images taken in March and April 2019.

Taken on December 6, 2018 (Sol 10), this was NASA’s first full selfie on Mars. Solar panels and roof screens. On deck are its scientific instruments, weather sensors, and a UHF antenna. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
This was NASA Insight’s second completed selfie on Mars. Since taking its first selfie, the rover has removed its temperature probe and seismometer from its surface, placing them on the surface of Mars; A thin layer of dust now covered the spacecraft as well. This selfie is a mosaic of 14 images taken on March 15 and April 11, the 106th and 133rd days of Mars, Sol, or Sol, by the Insight Tool distribution camera, located on its robotic arm. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

All instruments except the seismometer are already off. Like other Mars spacecraft, InSight has a fail-safe system that automatically engages “safe mode” in threatening situations and shuts down all but the most important of its functions, allowing engineers to assess the situation. Low power and temperatures outside preset limits can trigger safe mode to run.

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To allow the seismometer to continue operating for as long as possible, the mission team is turning off the InSight failsafe system. While this will allow the device to function longer, it leaves the lander unprotected from sudden and unexpected events that ground controllers won’t have time to respond to.

said Chuck Scott, InSight project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Although there are currently no proposals for future missions like InSight, NASA is currently working on one. Samples from Mars return to Earth Sometime in the 1930s. This sample return mission is the next step after NASA’s Perseverance Rover successfully collected several fossilized samples from the surface of Mars and dropped them directly on the surface where they await. be captured and returned to Earth in the next few years.

What new discoveries will we make on Mars in the coming years? Only time will show, and so we know!

As always, keep learning and keep researching!

Fuentes: Earth HeavenAnd the NASA (1)And the espacio.comAnd the NASA (2)

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