After more than four years of collecting unique scientific data on the Red Planet, the US space agency has officially decommissioned the InSight Mars lander. After two failed attempts to make contact with the lander, mission controllers at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California came to the conclusion that the spacecraft’s solar-powered batteries, known as the “dead bus,” had run out of power.
Although hearing from the lander at this point is deemed unlikely, the agency stated in a statement that it will keep listening for one just in case. On December 15, InSight last communicated with Earth.
The assistant administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., Thomas Zurbuchen, said, “I watched the launch and landing of this mission, and while saying goodbye to a spacecraft is always difficult, the amazing science InSight did is cause for celebration.”
Seismic data from this Discovery Program mission alone, he continued, “offers great insights not just into Mars but also into other rocky worlds, including Earth.” Scientists Can Use NASA Sensors To Find Methane Emitted by Landfills Around the World.
Data from InSight has revealed information about the layers that make up Mars’ interior, as well as about the weather in this region of Mars and a lot of earthquake activity.
Its incredibly sensitive seismometer, daily monitoring by the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), and the Marsquake Service run by ETH Zurich all detected 1,319 “marsquakes,” including quakes brought on by meteoroid impacts, the largest of which uncovered boulder-size chunks of ice late last year.
The data from the seismometer allows scientists to analyse the planet’s crust, mantle, and core, and these impacts aid in determining the age of the planet’s surface.
According to Philippe Lognonne of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, chief scientist of InSight’s seismometer, “With InSight, seismology was the focus of a mission beyond Earth for the first time since the Apollo missions, when humans transported seismometers to the Moon.”
The lander’s solar panels gradually lost energy as dust built up on them; this process started before NASA extended the mission earlier this year. The seismometer was the last science instrument to remain powered on.
The mission’s manager, Laurie Leshin, noted that as a scientist who has devoted her career to researching Mars, it has been exciting to witness what the lander has accomplished. Laurie Leshin is the director of JPL, which oversees the expedition.
On Tuesday, the Mars InSight lander uploaded its final photo on Twitter. “I may be able to send this image as my power is quite low. Don’t worry about me though; I’ve had a productive and peaceful stay here. I’ll keep chatting to my mission team if I can, but I’ll shortly be saying goodbye here. I appreciate you staying with me “the InSight lander crew reported.