A groundbreaking Mars lander may have just sent home one last haunting image

A groundbreaking Mars lander may have just sent home one last haunting image

It’s almost time say goodbye to another Martian friend. Many missions to the Red Planet have gone silent for the last time, some after many years of successful data collection and others after a brief freefall as a fireball. We’ll soon be adding another Mars explorer to this ever-growing list – InSight may have sent its final image home.

The image itself is similar to hundreds of others the probe has returned to Earth over the past four years. In the center of the image is the craft’s seismometer, which has focused on collecting data on Marquakes and whose data has been used in dozens of papers. In this image, however, it is visibly covered in the fine red dust that coats everything on the Red Planet.

Here is the image, captured on November 6, 2022:

This dust also covers InSight’s power source. Its solar panels are collectively more covered and, therefore, able to provide less and less power to the lander itself. Unfortunately, InSight was also lucky or unlucky to be located in an area of ​​general calm for the Martian dust devils. Although they can be difficult for the instruments themselves to handle while they’re performing, dust devils also do a wonderful job of cleaning up dust-covered solar panels.

Another factor in the increasing dust accumulation was a design decision made by the InSight team at the start of the project. Various methods can help remove dust from solar panels. Compressed air and wiper blades similar to those found on cars are two of the most common. But InSight engineers decided not to include such a system on their probe.

In another recent image, InSight uses its robotic arms to scrape away some of the regolith around it.Credit – NASA/JPL-Caltech

Making these kinds of decisions is one of the hardest parts of engineering. Dust collection systems add weight and therefore cost more, both in design and in transport to Mars. Launch costs are always a big part of a project’s budget, so every system is reviewed to see if it’s really needed. In the case of Insight, the team determined that a dust collection system was not.

There was one crucial factor that led to this decision – Insight’s relatively short planned mission duration as a whole. It was only intended to last for one Earth year. It ended up lasting four.

What’s next for InSight

JPL video of InSight’s achievements. Credit – NASA JPL YouTube Channel

Even without a dust collection system, the mission exceeded its initial expectations. And Insight has cemented its position as one of the most prolific Mars probes to date. His data has been the basis of dozens of papers, and we’ve come to understand everything from the presence (or lack thereof) of liquid water around the lander to the discovery of magma in the same area.

Such data would make any scientific team proud, and those involved in Insight had plenty of time to see the end coming. UT first reported its power issues in May. But, although it has continued to grow over the past six months, it may soon be time to say a final goodbye to inland exploration with the help of seismic surveys, geodesy and transport missions. heat. He will not be forgotten and may even be brought back to life one day when man finally walks on the landscape he is the only one to have seen so far.

This article was originally published on Universe today by Andy Tomaswick. Read the original article here.

#groundbreaking #Mars #lander #home #haunting #image

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *