One of the big problems with the equipment that populates the Martian soil is the dust that coats everything on Mars. Several probes and robots have already “lost their lives” under this coat of dust which does not allow the sun to power the solar panels of the machines. NASA’s InSight robot is running out of power. Only a “Martian miracle” can save him.
This mission will be to say goodbye to Earth. Probably reached its last months of life after more than three years of activity surface on the red planet.
A death (to starvation) announced on Mars
After earlier this month that InSight detected the largest Martian earthquake, which recorded a magnitude of 5 "marshal" - the largest earthquake ever detected on any other planet - the announced mission operators that the accumulation of dust on the robot's solar panels is slowly starving InSight (for energy).
Unless the earthly device is graced with a fortuitous devil of wind blowing some of the dirt off the panels, InSight will wind down science operations this summer and be officially dead by the end of the year.
We have been very busy on Mars for the past three and a half years. We have obtained unprecedented data on the deep interior of Mars, as well as its climate and magnetic fields.
He mentioned Bruce Banerdt, InSight's lead investigator, during the briefing.
InSight is the first mission designed to study the interior of Mars. Its action took advantage of a seismometer built in France called Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SIX). SEIS has detected more than 1,300 Martian earthquakes since it was placed on the planet's surface at the start of the mission.
As well as shedding light on the geological activity of Mars, the seismometer has opened a window into Mars' subterranean layers, studying how seismic waves pass through its interior features.
The mission is also equipped with a German-built robotic "mole", called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), which was intended to dig up to five meters into the Martian surface. Unfortunately, the mole couldn't gain traction in the unusually hard dirt at InSight's landing site and was pulled out after drilling about two meters into the ground.
In addition to SEIS and HP3, the mission includes an instrument called Rotation and interior structure experience (RISE) which measured the wobble of Mars' North Pole as the planet orbits the Sun. This data can be used to discover information about the interior features of the planet.
According to NASA, if just 25% of InSight's panels were swept by the wind, the spacecraft would gain about 1,000 watt-hours per sun, enough to continue collecting scientific data.
However, at the current rate of decreasing power, InSight's non-seismic instruments will rarely be activated after the end of May.