An innovative Mars lander may have sent home one last disturbing image

An innovative Mars lander may have sent home one last disturbing image
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it’s almost time to 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 free fall like a ball of fire. We’ll soon be adding another Martian explorer to that ever-growing list: Vision he could have sent his final image home.

the image itself is similar to hundreds of others the probe has been sending back to Earth over the past four years. In the center of the image is the ship’s seismometer, which has focused on collecting data on canopies and whose data has been used in dozens of articles. In this image, however, it is noticeably covered in the fine red dust that covers everything on the Red Planet.

Here is the image captured on November 6, 2022:

That dust also covers InSight’s power source. Its solar panels have collectively become more covered and thus able to provide less and less power to the lander itself. Unfortunately, InSight also had the good or bad luck of being located in an area of ​​general calm for Martian dust devils. While they can be difficult for the instruments themselves to handle while they’re happening, dust devils also do a remarkably good job of clearing dust-covered solar panels.

Another fact in the growing dust buildup was a design decision the InSight team made early in the project. Several 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 any such system on their probe.

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

Making those kinds of decisions is one of the hardest parts of engineering. Dust removal systems add weight and therefore cost more money, both to design and to bring to Mars. Launch costs still take up a significant amount of a project’s budget, so each system is analyzed to see if it’s really necessary. In the case of Insight, the team determined that a dust removal system was not.

There was one crucial factor that led to that decision: the relatively short expected duration of the Insight mission as a whole. It was only planned for the last Earth year. It ended up lasting four.

What’s next for InSight?

JPL video on InSight’s achievements. Credit: NASA JPL YouTube channel

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

Such data would make any scientific team proud, and those involved in Insight have had plenty of time to see the end coming. UT first reported its power problems in May. But while it has continued to strengthen over the past six months, it may soon be time to say a last goodbye to interior exploration through seismic surveys, geodesy and heat transport missions. He will not be forgotten and might even come back to life one day when humans finally set foot on the landscape he has only seen so far.

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

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