NASA's InSight lander mission may have come to an end after the lander failed to communicate back to Earth on December 18.
Although NASA has had a plethora of orbiters, landers, and rovers on Mars, many of which continue to operate, others are no more. The Opportunity Rover, for example, died on Mars after overachieving its expectations on the red surface. The culprit of the fall of Oppy? Dust on Mars. Specifically dust storms. These massive raging storms carry countless dust particles through the sky. As they fall, they build up on solar panels on our landers and rovers.
This causes them not to be able to recharge their batteries. In turn, the rovers and landers die. And this is what NASA precisely assumes has happened to this InSight lander that failed to communicate back to mission control on December 18. Nevertheless, inSight has performed admirably, surviving for 1445 Soles on the surface of Mars. One Earth year equals 688 Soles on Mars.
InSight’s power has been declining
NASA is therefore preparing to say goodbye to its lander. And this is nothing new since, as NASA has explained previously, the lander’s power has been declining for months due to thick layers of dust accumulating on the solar panels. NASA revealed that the last time they communicated successfully with the lander was December 15. Although InSight failed to phone back home on December 18, mission scientists will continue trying to call InSight, hoping the lander will respond. Here are probably its last photographs.
NASA Statement on the InSight Lander
The latest statement from NASA reads: “… it is assumed InSight may have reached its end of operations. It’s unknown what prompted the change in its energy; the last time the mission contacted the spacecraft was on December 15, 2022…”
What now for InSight?
Insight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) was launched on May 5, 2018, and arrived at Mars on November 26 of the same year. After four Earth years of mission, the lander has successfully investigated the interior of Mars with its state-of-the-art seismometer and a heat probe, as well as meteorology and the magnetic field. It is expected that NASA will declare the mission over when InSight loses two consecutive communication sessions with spacecraft in Mars orbit. However, this is only if the cause of the loss of communication is the lander itself. After that, NASA’s Deep Space Network will listen for a while, just in case, hoping to hear from InSight.