NASA’s InSight Mars lander power dwindles, has months left

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NASA’s InSight Mars lander is losing power due to dust on its solar panels.

The agency announced Tuesday that science operations are expected to end by the end of this summer.

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By December, the InSight team expects the lander to be out of service.

NASA said it will continue to use the spacecraft’s seismometer to record earthquakes until the power goes out.

Flight controllers will then monitor InSight through the end of the year.

Later this month, the team will bring the lander’s robotic arm into its resting position for the last time.

InSight landed on Mars on November 26, 2018, the same year a global dust storm wiped out Opportunity.

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The lander was designed to accomplish the main science objectives of the mission in its first year on Mars. Now, InSight is on an extended mission.

When it landed, the solar panels produced about 5,000 watt-hours each Martian day.

A thin layer of Martian dust can be seen covering InSight in this selfie taken by the Instrument Display Camera on the lander’s robotic arm. The image is made up of 14 shots captured on March 15 and April 11, 2019, the 106th and 133rd Martian days, or sols, of the mission.
(Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Now, NASA said, they are producing roughly 500 watt-hours in the same time period.

Seasonal changes are beginning at InSight’s location on Mars, with more dust in the air.

InSight’s seismometer has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes, including the largest just two weeks ago.

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Information from earthquakes has allowed scientists to measure the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle and core, and InSight has recorded invaluable meteorological data and studied the remnants of Mars’ ancient magnetic field.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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