The end could be near for NASA’s InSight Mars lander

Hard blow for NASA regarding the InSight lander currently in operation on the planet Mars, the device may not last long on the Red Planet. Indeed, after a recent storm that collected even more dust on the device’s solar panels, it could soon be out of power.

According to SpaceNews, InSight had managed to survive after a big dust storm that took place last January. However, the accumulation of trash on the solar panels has become increasingly severe, and energy levels have dropped so much that NASA has indicated that the lander will be out of service by the end of 2022. .

According to InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt, January’s dust storm arrived “very quickly” and without any early warning signs. After the storm, the device managed to get out of the “safe mode” it entered during the storm, but the dust that accumulates will eventually be the cause of its end.

A not so bright future

Reportedly, Banerdt predicted last summer that dust on InSight’s solar panels would lead to the end of the lander by the spring of 2022. Today, the fateful date has been pushed back to late 2022, however, InSight’s future remains bleak.

Banerdt explained during a recent meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group that current projections indicate that the energy will drop below the level necessary to operate the device in May or June. Towards the end of the year, the energy level will be below the survival threshold.

A last resort

Even if the game seems already over for InSight, NASA is trying somehow to delay the inevitable. Since last year, space agency technicians have had the lander perform a rather unusual action. InSight had to pick up dust on the ground and then let it gently slide over its solar panels. This removes some of the dust already on the panels.

According to Banerdt, this exercise still worked, and the energy was able to temporarily increase by 1 to 3% with each maneuver.

At NASA level, we know that the InSight mission is funded until the end of 2022. The team behind the lander has requested an extension to be able to continue the mission, but first the solar panels can be cleaned.

For Banerdt, it’s likely that we won’t be able to get many results after the summer, and that InSight won’t last more than a year.

SOURCE: Futuristic

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