NASA is preparing to say goodbye to the spacecraft tasked with giving us some of the closest observations to the surface of Mars.
10+ years later first announcedthe InSight lander will remain silent for the next few weeks.
NASA says its power-generating capacity has now reached the end of its life as a lot of wind dust is now falling on its solar panels.
It’s been stationed on Mars since 2018, when the little craft was enduring “Seven Minutes of Horror” Descend to the surface of the mysterious Red Planet (though, thanks to InSight, a little less now) the Red Planet.
Sky News looks back at some of its best moments – and how its four-year mission will end.
First selfie on Mars
A few years ago, Google estimated that nearly 100 million selfies were taken every day, using data on people’s photo-taking habits.
But only one has been captured on Mars.
After successfully completing the 300 million-mile journey, the InSight rover used a camera attached to its robotic arm to beam a picture from the Elysium Planitia region all the way back to Earth.
It marked NASA’s eighth successful landing on Mars, enduring temperatures of up to 1,500 degrees Celsius and sparking frenzied celebrations by teams on the ground.
Sounds like “Marsquake”
InSight’s seismic monitors recorded the faint rumble about five months after landing on Mars.
NASA scientists concluded that it came from within Earth, calling it a “Marsquake.”
It is so faint that it would hardly be recorded if it happened on Earth, and is caused by the cooling and shrinking process of Earth (Mars doesn’t have any tectonic plates).
NASA said the recording opens up a new field of research in “Mars seismology,” which could help learn more about how rocky planets, including Earth, formed.
red planet wind season
Further tremors were detected in April 2021, but more uncertainty surrounds these.
They are believed to have originated in a place called Cerberus Fossae, and they are thought to be caused by the sudden release of unexplained energy from the interior of the planet.
The previous quakes had been recorded for some time, which led NASA to conclude that quakes are often overshadowed by Mars’ seasons of particularly strong winds.
Winds on Mars can reach north of 70 miles per hour, making enough noise to completely mask some of the shaking.
Meteoroid leaves impact crater
On Christmas Eve last year, InSight felt the ground shake again — but this time from a meteoroid impact.
NASA only discovered last month that it was a meteoroid, not another tremor, after cameras mounted on the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a sizable crater on Earth.
It is believed to be one of the largest craters ever formed anywhere in the solar system, and InSight proved to be the key to the “unprecedented” discovery.
“This is an exciting time in geological history — we have to see it with our own eyes,” said Ingrid Daubar, head of the InSight mission impact science working group.
How the InSight mission will end
One of the most important things to do is to ensure that all data collected by InSight is saved.
For example, its seismological data will be stored alongside other seismic information from the Apollo lunar missions for continued research, which may continue to aid future discoveries.
InSight will still collect data for now—but most of its equipment (except the most sensitive seismograph sensors) has been shut down in order to maintain power.
When InSight misses two consecutive communications sessions with a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars, the mission will be declared over, and there will be no heroic rescue mission to reconnect.
Goodbye, little insight, you are now at the mercy of Mars.