Perhaps the pioneering Mars probe has just sent home one last haunting photo

It’s almost time To bid farewell to another Martian friend. Plenty of missions to the Red Planet fell silent for the last time, some after many years of successful data collection and others after briefly free-falling as a fireball. We’ll soon be adding another Mars explorer to that ever-growing list — InSight may have sent its final image home.

The image itself is similar to hundreds of other images that the probe has sent back to Earth over the past four years. In the center of the image is the craft’s seismometer, which has been focused on collecting data on the Marquakes and whose data has been used in dozens of papers. However, in this image it is noticeably covered in fine red dust that covers everything on the red planet.

This is the photo taken on November 6, 2022:

This dust also covers the InSight power supply. The solar panels have been encased en masse, and are therefore able to provide less and less power to the lander itself. Unfortunately, InSight has also had good or bad luck in an area of ​​general tranquility for the Martian dust demons. While it can be difficult for the tools themselves to handle while it’s happening, dust devils also do a remarkably good job of cleaning dust-covered solar panels.

Another fact of dust buildup is the design decision the InSight team made at the start of the project. Various methods can help remove dust from solar panels. Compressed air blades and wiper blades similar to those found in cars are the most common types. But InSight engineers decided not to include any such system in their probe.

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

Making these kinds of decisions is one of the hardest parts of engineering. Dust removal systems add weight and therefore cost more money, both in designing them and in transporting them to Mars. Launch costs still consume a significant amount of the project budget, so each system is checked to see if it is really necessary. In the case of Insight, the team determined that the dust removal system was not.

There was one critical factor that led to this decision – the relatively short duration of the Insight mission as a whole. It was planned to last only one year on Earth. It ended with four.

What’s next for InSight

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

Even without the dust removal system, the mission far exceeded its original expectations. Insight has cemented its place as one of the most prolific Mars probes to date. Its data was the basis for dozens of papers, and we’ve come to understand everything from the presence (or lack of) liquid water around the probe to finding some magma in the same area.

Data like this would make any science team proud, and the Insight participants had plenty of time to see the end coming. UT first reported its power issues in May. But while it’s been going strong for the past six months, it may soon be time to bid farewell to inland exploration with seismic, geodesy and thermal transport investigations missions. He will not be forgotten, and may even be brought back to life one day when humans finally step onto landscapes no one has yet seen.

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

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