NASA’s InSight Mars lander’s power diminishing, has months left

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NASA’s InSight Mars lander is losing power due to dust on its solar panels.

The agency announced Tuesday that science operations are expected to end later this summer.

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By December, the InSight team expects the lander to have become inoperative.

NASA said that it will keep using the spacecraft’s seismometer to register marsquakes until the power is out.

Then, flight controllers will monitor InSight until the end of the year.

Later this month, the team will put the lander’s robotic arm in its resting position for the last time.

InSight landed on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018, the same year that a global dust storm took out Opportunity.

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The lander was designed to accomplish the mission’s primary science goals in its first Mars year. Now, InSight is on an extended mission.

When it landed, the solar panels produced around 5,000 watt-hours each Martian day.

A thin layer of Martian dust can be seen coating InSight in this selfie taken by the Instrument Deployment Camera on the lander's robotic arm.  The image is made up of 14 shots captured March 15 and April 11, 2019, the 106th and 133rd Martian days, or sols, of the mission.

A thin layer of Martian dust can be seen coating InSight in this selfie taken by the Instrument Deployment Camera on the lander’s robotic arm. The image is made up of 14 shots captured March 15 and April 11, 2019, the 106th and 133rd Martian days, or sols, of the mission.
(Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Now, NASA said, they’re producing roughly 500 watt-hours in the same timeframe.

Seasonal changes are beginning in InSight’s location on Mars, with more dust in the air.

InSight’s seismometer has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes, including the biggest one just two weeks ago.

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The information from the quakes has allowed scientists to measure the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle and core, and InSight has recorded invaluable weather data and studied remnants of Mars’ ancient magnetic field.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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