NASA’s dust-covered InSight Mars lander will keep its seismometer going as the spacecraft nears death


Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 22-06-2022 11:05 IST | Created: 22-06-2022 10:07 IST
NASA’s dust-covered InSight Mars lander will keep its seismometer going as the spacecraft nears death
Image Credit: Twitter (@NASAInSight)
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NASA's dust-covered InSight Mars lander will operate its seismometer longer than previously planned, although the spacecraft will run out of power sooner as a result, the mission team said on Tuesday.

"InSight hasn't finished teaching us about Mars yet. We're going to get every last bit of science we can before the lander concludes operations," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington.

InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, was projected to automatically shut down the seismometer – its last operational science instrument – by the end of this month so that it could conserve energy, surviving on what power its dust-laden solar panels can generate until around December.

The team has now revised the mission's timeline so that the seismometer can operate longer, perhaps until the end of August or into early September. While this will discharge the lander's batteries sooner and cause the spacecraft to run out of power, it might enable the seismometer to detect additional marsquakes.

NASA's InSight Mars lander completed its prime mission at the end of 2020 and now it is on an extended mission through December 2022. Unfortunately, due to dust accumulation on its solar panels, the lander is gradually losing power and will soon conclude its science operations.

The mission detected more than 1,300 marsquakes since touching down on the Red Planet in 2018. Last month, the lander detected a marsquake of magnitude 5 - the biggest ever detected on another planet. The information gathered from these quakes has allowed scientists to measure the depth and composition of Mars' crust, mantle, and core.

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