NASA officially retires Mars InSight lander 4 years after it arrived on the Red Planet

NASA has officially retired its Mars InSight lander, the first robotic probe designed specifically to study the deep interiors of distant worlds, four years after it reached the surface of the red planet, the space agency announced Wednesday. .

mission controller in nasaThe Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) near Los Angeles determined the mission was over after two consecutive attempts to re-establish radio contact with the lander failed, a sign that InSight’s solar cells had run out of energy.

NASA predicted in late October that the spacecraft would reach the end of its useful life within a few weeks as a growing buildup of dust on the solar panels drained the batteries’ ability to recharge.

JPL engineers will continue to monitor the signal from the lander just in case, but it is unlikely to hear from InSight again, NASA said.The three-legged fixed detector is finally connected with Earth December 15th.

insight landed on Mars Its initial two-year mission was later extended to four years in late November 2018, using an instrument designed to detect planetary seismic rumbles anywhere but Earth.

Located on a vast and relatively flat plain north of Earth’s equator called the Plane of Elysium, the lander has helped scientists gain new insights into the interior of Mars.

InSight’s data revealed the thickness of the planet’s outer shell, the size and density of its inner core, and the structure of the mantle that lies in between, the researchers said.

One of InSight’s major accomplishments has been determining that the Red Planet is indeed seismically active, with more than 1,300 Martian quakes recorded. It also measured seismic waves from meteorite impacts.

“Seismic data from this Discovery Program mission alone has provided profound insights into Mars and other rocky bodies, including Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

One such impact a year ago was found to have gouged out boulder-sized chunks of water ice near the Martian equator.

As InSight retires, it’s the latest robotic visitor to the Red Planet from NASA’s science rovers willcontinues to prepare collections of Martian mineral samples for future analysis on Earth.

This week, Perseverance used the first of 10 sample tubes it instructed to leave at its surface collection station on Mars as a backup cache in case the main supplies stored in the rover’s belly couldn’t be transferred to the recovery spaceflight as planned. NASA said on the machine in the future.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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