InSight gets a few extra weeks of Mars science

Wed, 22 Jun 2022 04:56:37 GMT
Space Daily

Pasadena CA (JPL) Jun 22, 2022 As the power available to NASA's InSight Mars lander diminishes by...

As the power available to NASA's InSight Mars lander diminishes by the day, the spacecraft's team has revised the mission's timeline in order to maximize the science they can conduct.

The lander was projected to automatically shut down the seismometer - InSight's last operational science instrument - by the end of June in order to conserve energy, surviving on what power its dust-laden solar panels can generate until around December.

"InSight hasn't finished teaching us about Mars yet," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington.

"We're going to get every last bit of science we can before the lander concludes operations."

InSight is in an extended mission after achieving its science goals.

The lander has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes since touching down on Mars in 2018, providing information that has allowed scientists to measure the depth and composition of Mars' crust, mantle, and core.

With its other instruments, InSight has recorded invaluable weather data, investigated the soil beneath the lander, and studied remnants of Mars' ancient magnetic field.

Like other Mars spacecraft, InSight has a fault protection system that automatically triggers "Safe mode" in threatening situations and shuts down all but its most essential functions, allowing engineers to assess the situation.

"The goal is to get scientific data all the way to the point where InSight can't operate at all, rather than conserve energy and operate the lander with no science benefit," said Chuck Scott, InSight's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The InSight team will also be available to answer your questions directly on June 28 at 3 p.m. EDT during a livestream event on YouTube.