NASA declares Insight dead after two failed communication attempts

NASA said goodbye to Insight after more than four years of service.

The mission controller announced the demise of the Mars probe on Wednesday after two failed attempts to contact the rover.

The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the death was caused by the vehicle’s batteries running out of power — dubbing it a “dead bus” by State engineers.

The last time the lander communicated with Earth was on December 15, but mission control previously decided to declare the mission over if Insight missed two contact attempts.

On Tuesday, the official Insight Twitter account posted what is believed to be the last image taken by the Mars lander.

NASA shared an image from Insight on Tuesday (pictured), saying this may be the last image from the Mars lander because its batteries weren’t charging.

Insight has detected more than 1,300 earthquakes using a French-made seismometer, including many caused by meteor strikes, since landing on Mars in 2018.

“I watched the launch and landing of this mission, and while saying goodbye to a spacecraft is always sad, the amazing science done by Insight is cause for celebration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, in a statement.

“The seismic data alone from this provides tremendous insights into not only Mars but other rocky bodies, including Earth.”

The final image of Insight’s seismometer, the Seismic Structure Interior Experiment (SEIS), shows a circular, dome-shaped instrument.

SEIS has been sitting on the surface of Mars taking “pulses,” or seismic vibrations, and providing a glimpse into the planet’s interior activity.

InSight also carries two engineering cameras – one mounted on the arm (known as an IDC) and one on the front of the lander (known as an ICC), which captured this final image.

Earlier this summer, the probe had so little power left that the mission turned off Insight’s other science instruments to keep the seismometer working.

NASA even turned off the fail-safe system that would have automatically shut down the seismometer if the system detected that the descent power generation was dangerously low.

Insight has been tasked with studying the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including those on Earth and the Moon, formed.

She was only supposed to run for two years, but her stint was extended to four years after it was found to have ‘produced exceptional science’ by an independent review panel.

Even from the mission’s inception, it was clear to NASA employees that it wouldn’t be as long-lived as some of the agency’s other projects.

It was known that solar panels would eventually be covered with Martian dust, making it difficult to generate power.

Fitting it with some of the mechanisms that remove dust “would have added cost, mass and complexity,” NASA said, which could have hindered its success.

The US space agency said that the scientific findings and discoveries obtained by Insight “answered many questions and raised new questions for future explorers.”

NASA shared the final image of the rover as the sun was setting on Mars

NASA shared the final image of the rover as the sun was setting on Mars

Unfortunately, wind-carried Martian dust gradually collects on Insight's solar panels, making it difficult to generate power.  The above probe was imaged in December 2018

Unfortunately, wind-carried Martian dust gradually collects on Insight’s solar panels, making it difficult to generate power. The above probe was imaged in December 2018

The visionary landed near Mars¿'s equator on the western side of a flat expanse of lava, Elysium Planitia and shortly after posted its first image on Twitter.

InSight landed near the Martian equator on the western side of the flat expanse of lava, Elysium Planitia — and shortly after it posted its first image on Twitter.

These include the detection of the first earthquakes on another planet, including the most recent one in May this year.

This earthquake is estimated to have a magnitude of 5, with vibrations reverberating across the planet for at least six hours.

InSight also showed that the planet’s crust is thinner than expected — about 15 to 25 miles (25 to 40 kilometers) thick, and made up of three inner layers.

“InSight lives up to its name,” said Lori Lechien, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the mission.

As a scientist who has spent his career studying Mars, it has been a joy to see what the rover has achieved, thanks to the whole team of people around the world who helped make this mission a success.

“Yes, it is sad to say goodbye, but InSight’s legacy will live on, inform and inspire.”

Insight’s best scientific findings

The first earthquake was detected on another planet

Insight made the first-ever detection of earthquakes on the Red Planet.

The seismometer on board measured more than 1,300 seismic events.

The most recent, in May 2022, was estimated to have a magnitude of 5, with vibrations that resonate across the planet for at least six hours.

New information about the three main layers of Mars

Insight has collected new information about the three main layers of Mars – the crust, mantle and core.

Scientists found that the crust beneath InSight is thinner than expected — about 15 to 25 miles (25 to 40 kilometers) thick, and made up of three inner layers.

Magnetic ‘ghosts’ of an ancient electric field found

InSight has carried the first-ever magnetometer instrument to the surface of Mars, enabling it to detect magnetic signals.

In its early history, Mars had electric currents coursing through its molten metal core as the planet rapidly cooled.

This global magnetic field has disappeared but left behind ghosts: traces of this ancient field are “frozen” in the rocks of the Earth’s crust.

InSight’s magnetometer found that ancient rocks 200 feet (61 meters) high and several miles underground are strongly magnetized.

Read more here

#NASA #declares #Insight #dead #failed #communication #attempts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *