The forces of InSight, the robot sent by NASA to Mars to study every detail of the red planet, falter. It was the machine itself that said goodbye with a moving tweet: “My power is really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though – my time here has been productive and serene. If I can continue to talk to my mission team, I will, but I’ll close here soon. Thank you for staying with me”, has written one of those responsible, aware that the machine has little left to turn off.
Mission controllers have been unable to communicate with the lander after two consecutive attempts, leading them to conclude that the spacecraft’s solar-powered batteries have run out of power. NASA has no choice but to terminate the mission after four years of adventures on the red planet. Just in case, the agency will continue to listen for a signal, although it considers it “unlikely.” The last time InSight communicated with Earth was December 15.
It is a sad goodbye, although those responsible have not missed the opportunity to value their results. “The seismic data alone from this Discovery Program mission offer great insights not only from Mars but also from other rocky bodies, including Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
The robot has collected important data on the climate and seismic activity of Mars
InSight, short for Inner Exploration Through Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport, set out to study the deep interior of Mars. Thanks to its highly sensitive seismometer, it has provided important data on the climate of this part of the red planet and a large part of its seismic activity. Specifically, it detected 1,319 ‘marsquakes’, the English name with which they baptized Martian earthquakes, which help scientists determine the age of the planet’s surface.
“With InSight, seismology was the focus of a mission beyond Earth for the first time since the Apollo missions, when astronauts brought seismometers to the Moon,” says Philippe Lognonné of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, principal investigator for the InSight seismometer.
The lander also featured a self-hammering pick, nicknamed “the mole,” which was meant to burrow five meters downward, trailing a string laden with sensors that would measure the heat inside the planet, allowing scientists to calculate how much energy was involved. to remnants of the formation of Mars. The instrument collected valuable data on the physical and thermal properties of the Martian soil along the way.
InSight shuts down
Too much dust accumulated on your solar panels
The seismometer was the last scientific instrument to remain on as dust accumulated on the lander’s solar panels gradually reduced in power, a process that began before NASA extended the mission earlier this year.
Now, InSight’s forces are faltering. “My power is really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though – my time here has been productive and serene. If I can continue to talk to my mission team, I will, but I’ll close here soon. Thank you for staying with me,” they wrote from the official Twitter account.
NASA also says goodbye with a loving message. “We have thought of InSight as our friend and colleague on Mars for the last four years, so it is difficult to say goodbye,” says the mission’s principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt, although he acknowledges that he “has earned his well-deserved retirement.” .