NASA’s InSight probe landed on Mars in November 2018. Four years later, it is estimated that it has experienced a drop in energy due to failures in its solar panels caused by a large dust storm on the neighboring planet.
The purpose with InSight was to collect seismological data from Mars for Earth. Since being on the planet, the probe has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes (Martian earthquakes) and has been able to photograph them and detect that some are larger than the ones that have been here.
Despite the importance of the information collected, InSight has had dust buildup on your solar panels From the beginning. This inconvenience has caused the lander to not charge properly, since its only source of energy is solar.
The US space agency notified in June that the probe was not likely to arrive until 2023 despite its attempts to extend the life of the lander. According to Europa Press, on October 3, NASA detected that the latest dust storms had increased the dust haze around InSight up to almost 40%.
This has caused the charge on the solar panels to drop to the 425 watt hours to the Martian day. Until now, the rover’s seismometer has been running for nearly 24 hours every other day on Mars, but the energy storage won’t be enough to stick to this plan for long.
Now, NASA plans to shut down the device for two weeks to allow it to charge. “If we can get through this, we can continue to operate until the winterbut I would be concerned about the next storm coming up,” Chuck Scott, project manager at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.
“The goal is to get science data to the point where InSight can’t operate at all, rather than conserve power and operate the lander for no scientific benefit,” Scott says.
With InSight, scientists have recorded marsquakes using their seismometers. Before the mission, researchers weren’t sure if there would be ‘earthquakes’ on the red planet and, in fact, months passed without any.
Four months after landing, the probe detected a marsquake and in these four years data has been collected on more than 1,300. Despite these data, the NASA team assures that Mars does not have tectonic plates. as it happens with the Earth.
Seismic waves have helped scientists assess the interior of the planet and the vibrations caused by meteorites hitting it.
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