Tuesday Dec 20, 2022
Web Desk

'My power's really low': Mars rover soon to sign off from the Red Planet

Web Desk
The NASA InSight lander has sent what may be its final signal from the planet.— Twitter/@NASAInSight
The NASA InSight lander has sent what may be its final signal from the planet.— Twitter/@NASAInSight

The NASA InSight lander, which has been exploring Mars' innards as part of a historic mission, has sent what may be its final signal from the planet.

In November, the space agency warned that the InSight lander's time may be running out as dust continued to accumulate and strangle its power.

“The spacecraft’s power generation continues to decline as windblown dust on its solar panels thickens,” NASA wrote in an update last month. “The end is expected to come in the next few weeks.”

NASA's InSight Twitter account shared on Monday: “My power’s really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me.”

In November 2018, the robotic geologist first landed on the desolate expanse of Elysium Planitia, carrying a hammer and a quake metre.

Since then, it has carried out geologic investigations and recorded the first marsquake readings using a state-of-the-art seismometer that was installed directly on the Martian surface.

Last month, the solar-powered lander sent an update in which it reflected on its time in orbit.

“I’ve been lucky enough to live on two planets. Four years ago, I arrived safely at the second one, to the delight of my family back on the first. Thanks to my team for sending me on this journey of discovery. Hope I’ve done you proud,” it said.

According to published mission statistics, Insight has monitored more than 1,300 seismic events since its deployment, and more than 50 of them had signals that were distinct enough for the researchers to determine their position on Mars.

The lander data has also revealed information about the layers that make up Mars' innards, its liquid core, the remarkably changeable remnants of its largely defunct magnetic field beneath the surface, weather, and earthquake activity.

Jim Green, a chief scientist at NASA, stated that the mission's "basic task was to understand the genesis of our solar system and how it became what it is today" prior to its 2018 launch.

Until InSight misses two check-ins with the spacecraft orbiting Mars that transmits its data back to Earth, NASA won't consider the mission a failure.

Opportunity, a seasoned Mars rover, announced the conclusion of its 15-year mission in 2018 by transmitting an unfinished photograph from Perseverance Valley.

The solar-powered rover's surroundings were darkened by a strong dust storm that obscured the Sun and left a shadowed image with white speckles from camera noise. Before the entire image could be relayed, the communication was interrupted.