A new photo shows a NASA spacecraft covered in Martian dust

Increase / Planetary scientist Paul Byrne has created this compilation of NASA images showing the InSight spacecraft on its 10th day on Mars and the landing craft in 1201 days.

Paul Byrne / Twitter / NASA

Anyone planning to move to Mars should probably count the dust. A lot dust.

Earlier this month Announced by NASA that he will soon have to stop scientific operations on his Mars InSight landing module due to reduced power levels from the car’s dusty solar panels. The spacecraft, which landed on the Red Planet in November 2018 to study seismic activity, simply cannot produce enough energy for normal operation.

NASA scientists claim that InSight has detected more than 1,300 aftershocks, including a relatively powerful earthquake of magnitude 5 May 4. It was the largest earthquake discovered to date, and on the upper limit of what scientists had hoped to observe. This seismic activity has allowed scientists to highlight details about the internal structure of the red planet.

But scientists say they expect the InSight to become completely inoperable by December this year, so they plan to complete the car’s scientific work this summer. This is because InSight solar panels, which generated 5,000 watt-hours each day after landing, can now generate only about 500 watt-hours. And the amount of daily electricity continues to decline due to the accumulation of dust on solar panels over the past three and a half years.

In some NASA missions to Mars, whirlwinds have helped clear the spacecraft of solar panels, as has happened with the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. But, unfortunately, this did not happen for the seismic launch vehicle.

The first step to shutting down InSight involves moving the robotic arm of the spacecraft to the stowed position. This arm was originally used to deploy the InSight seismometer and then to perform several tasks including dust removal from InSight solar panels. But now there is simply not enough power to move it regularly, and scientists want to save what is left to run the seismometer a little more.

However, before laying the robot’s arm broke last selfie InSight, and the dramatic result shows how dusty the spacecraft has become. The entire InSight is now covered with cold dry reddish dust.

The death of spaceships in distant worlds always feels melancholy. Mankind sends these metal machines into a hostile environment where they fight for survival and give us new knowledge about the unknown. Eventually, they are exposed to cold, radiation or dust and we can no longer communicate with them.

But InSight was a good a spacecraft that has survived its design life of two years and created the success of science, including the discovery that the core of Mars is much smaller than expected.

Back to top button