It’s time to say goodbye. NASA says it will shut down InSight probe on Mars this year
After three and a half years of research into the internal structure and composition of the Red Planet, the mission of the NASA InSight apparatus is completed, writes Inverse.
The InSight team announced that the stationary probe’s solar panels are covered in Martian dust, interfering with its power source. This means that InSight will begin to slowly prepare for retirement, and scientific activity will be completed by the end of this summer.
“When InSight first reached Mars in November 2018, we had about 5,000 watt hours per sol. Sol is Martian days. Today, we use about a tenth of that available power, about 500 watt hours per sol. Martian dust covers the solar panels, which limits the amount of work we can do,” Katya Zamora Garcia, deputy mission leader of the probe, said.
The decommissioning process for InSight will begin within the next few weeks. During the spring of 2022, the team constantly fires up the probe’s seismometer and instructs its robotic arm to perform several maneuvers, according to Zamora Garcia. After that, scientists will send the hand “retired”, and by the end of summer they will turn off the seismometer.
As Zamora Garcia noted, the team will complete most of the scientific observations by the end of the summer and will officially complete the work by the end of the year.