A NASA spacecraft on Mars is headed for a dusty demise. The Insight lander is losing power because of all the dust on its solar panels.NASA said Tuesday it will keep using the spacecraft’s seismometer to register marsquakes until the power peters out. Then flight controllers will monitor InSight until the end of this year.
There really hasn’t been too much doom and gloom on the team. Scientists are really still focused on operating the spacecraft. InSight has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes. It will be NASA’s second Mars lander lost to dust.A global dust storm took out Opportunity in 2018.
NASA’s two other functioning spacecraft on the Martian surface are still going strong thanks to nuclear power. The space agency may rethink solar power in the future for Mars or at least experiment with new panel-clearing tech or aim for the less-stormy seasons.
InSight currently is generating one-tenth of the power from the sun that it did upon arrival. Deputy project manager Kathya Zamora Garcia said the lander initially had enough power to run an electric oven for one hour and 40 minutes. The InSight team anticipated this much dust buildup. None of them have quite hit us dead-on yet enough to blow the dust off the panels.