InSight’s last selfie: NASA’s InSight Mars lander took this last selfie on April 24, 2022, the 1,211th March day, or sun, for the mission. The lander is covered with much more dust than it was in his first selfietaken in December 2018, not long after landing – or in his second selfiecomposed of photos taken in March and April 2019. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
The mission team has chosen to run their seismometer longer than previously planned, although the lander will run out sooner as a result.
As the power available to NASA’s InSight Mars lander decreases with each passing day, the spacecraft team has revised the mission timeline to maximize the science they can perform. The lander was expected to automatically turn off the seismometer – InSight’s last operational scientific instrument – at the end of June to save energy and survive with what power it dusty Solar panels can generate until around December.
Instead, the team now plans to program the lander so that the seismometer can operate longer, perhaps until the end of August or into the beginning of September. Doing so will discharge the lander’s batteries earlier and cause the spacecraft to run out of power at that time as well, but it may allow the seismometer to detect further March earthquakes.
“InSight has not finished teaching us about Mars yet,” said Lori Glaze, head of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington. “We will get every single science we can before the lander ends the operation.”
The InSight team will be available to answer your questions directly on June 28 at 15.00 EDT (dinner PDT) during a livestream event on Youtube. Questions can be asked with the hashtag #AskNASA.
Insight (abbreviation of Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is in one extended assignment after achieving their scientific goals. The lander has detected more than 1,300 March earthquakes since landing in March 2018, providing information that has enabled researchers to measure the depth and composition of Mars crust, mantle and core. With its other instruments, InSight has recorded invaluable weather data, examined the earth beneath the lander and studied the remains of Mars’ ancient magnetic fields.
All instruments except the seismometer have already been switched off. Like other Mars spacecraft, InSight has a fail-safe system that automatically triggers “safe mode” in threatening situations and shuts off all but its most important functions, allowing engineers to assess the situation. Low power and temperatures drifting beyond predetermined limits can both trigger safe mode.
In order for the seismometer to continue to run for as long as possible, the mission team shuts down InSight’s fault protection system. While this allows the instrument to operate longer, it leaves the lander unprotected from sudden, unexpected events that ground inspectors would not have time to respond to.
“The goal is to get scientific data all the way to the point where InSight can not work at all, rather than saving energy and driving the lander without any scientific benefits,” said Chuck Scott, InSight’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Regular updates on InSight’s power and observations from mission team members will appear on blogs.nasa.gov/insight.
The InSight team will also be available to answer your questions directly on June 28 at 15.00 EDT (dinner PDT) during a livestream event on Youtube. Questions can be asked with the hashtag #AskNASA.
More about the mission
JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise liner and lander, and supports the spacecraft for the mission.
A number of European partners, including the French Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), support the InSight mission. CNES provided the internal structure seismic experiment (SEIS) instrument for NASA, with the principal investigator at the IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronomy in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.
News Media Contacts
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
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