NASA's dust-covered InSight Mars lander takes its last selfie on the Red Planet
NASA's InSight Mars lander took what is likely to be its last or final selfie on April 24, 2022, the 1,211th Martian day (sol) of the mission. The spacecraft is anticipated to end science operations later this summer as its power levels are diminishing due to dusty solar panels.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, touched down on Mars in November 2018 to study the interior of Mars and take the planet's vital signs, its pulse, and temperature.
Now into an extended mission through December 2022, InSight's solar panels have been producing less power as they continue to accumulate dust. Over the next few months, there will be more dust in the air, which will reduce sunlight, and ultimately the lander's energy, therefore, the mission is unlikely to continue operations for the duration of its current extended mission.
InSight took its first selfie on Mars in December 2018 and second in April 2019, when it was covered with far less dust than it is today.
According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate, the lander's robotic arm needs to move several times in order to capture a full selfie. Because its dusty solar panels are producing less power, the mission team will soon put the arm in its resting position (called the "retirement pose") for the last time in May 2022.
A dusty self-portrait.@NASAInSight took what is likely to be its final selfie on April 24. In the GIF, you can see the spacecraft's first selfie in December 2018 and its last one where it's covered in Martian dust. https://t.co/gvCNyRPnzC pic.twitter.com/CcN2Qzg90d— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) May 24, 2022
So far, NASA's InSight mission has recorded invaluable weather data, detected more than 1,300 marsquakes and studied remnants of Mars' ancient magnetic field.