May be the last photo sent home from NASA’s Mars lander

(ORDO NEWS) — Looking out over the dusty expanses of the Martian lava plain about 87 million kilometers away, NASA‘s Mars Insight lander may have just sent home its last image of the red planet.

Because it started collecting data early in 2019, the lander revolutionized our understanding of the Martian interior.

Now its solar panels are covered in dust, its power is running out, and it’s only a matter of time before Mars InSight shuts down for good.

We knew it would happen; NASA announced back in May that InSight science activities would likely end by the end of the year. But now comes the harsh reality, and we will have to say goodbye to another pioneer of Mars.

NASA said in a tweet that this would likely be the last image we see from InSight. , because its power is too low to transmit large amounts of data.

I’m very low on energy, so this might be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me: my time here has been productive and serene.

If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will, but I’ll sign here soon.

Thank you for staying with me — NASA InSight

Unlike other robotic laboratories exploring Mars, such as Curiosity and Perseverance, InSight is not a rover.

The lander after deployment was in one place on Mars, on the border between the cratered southern highlands and the flatter northern lowlands.

There, equipped with a set of instruments designed to monitor inner planetary activity, he discovered that Mars is not at all as dead as we had long assumed.

Rather, the interior of the red planet rumbles with seismic and possibly volcanic activity. . This is incredible information for a number of reasons.

First, all of this internal activity generates seismo-acoustic waves that bounce off the interior of Mars, giving seismic experts the information they need to create the first-ever detailed map of Mars. internal structure.

Its instruments are also sensitive enough to detect meteorites falling on Mars, which scientists have tracked down to fresh craters.

This information could help scientists better understand the history of Mars impacts a history that could help explain some of the planet’s geological and atmospheric characteristics.

And volcanic activity has incredible consequences. Mars is too cold and its atmosphere too thin for liquid water to accumulate on its surface, meaning that life as we know it cannot survive there.

But if there is volcanic activity on Mars, this internal heating could keep underground lakes from freezing, creating an environment in which microbial life could theoretically survive. It is very different from the barren, frozen dustball it appears to be on the surface.

NASA’s Opportunity rover suffered the same fate in 2019 when the thick layer of dust covering its solar panels failed to shake off.

Luckily, we don’t have to worry about Curiosity and Perseverance: both rovers are powered by the radioactive decay of plutonium and will keep running until their generators run out, no matter how much Martian dust covers their bodies.

InSight is not completely disabled yet. NASA will continue to maintain contact as long as possible. But the day is fast approaching when the lander will join retired spacecraft and explorer robots in a deserted space probe graveyard on Mars.

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