Here’s our last faint Mars Insight selfie

Panoramic selfie of the dust-covered InSight lander.

NASA has shared the latest selfie that the Mars lander Insight will take, which shows fabric-covered solar panels blending into the surrounding regolith. The InSight mission is expected to end this year, and the probe will need all its remaining energy to gather as much scientific data as possible.

At a press conference last week, NASA announced that: InSight will likely cease all activities at the end of 2022† The mission end is due to the amount of dust accumulating on the spacecraft’s solar panels, which limits the amount of power the spacecraft can draw from.

For three years, InSight has been working hard on Mars, Taking pictures of the Martian sky Seismometers were used to detect swamps. For two years, the probe tried to use the heat probe “Mole” to drill into the surface of Mars, Before the tool is stuck in the spongy ground† Earlier this month, lander Discover the largest seismic activity known to date On another planet: somewhere inside Mars, an earthquake of magnitude 5 occurred.

The probe also gave scientists The best view of the interior of Mars, So are the geological and seismic systems that operate on the planet today. InSight has detected 1,313 earthquakes so far, and so far it can detect more before scientific operations are over.

One of InSight's dust-covered solar panels.

It was the end of the mission creeping certainty. The probe was earlier Forced into safe conditions of dust storms on Mars. bridging measures It did help remove some dust from the plates—that is, by deliberately dumping Martian dust on the dust to expel it—but such measures seem to have prolonged the inevitable.

This last selfie was taken on April 24 and shows the amount of dust that has built up on the spacecraft’s solar panels. It’s much more dust than what was found in the first and second selfies of the lander, Created in December 2018 And Between March and April 2019

The selfies are a mosaic, which means they are pieced together from several photos, with each photo requiring the robotic arm holding the landing camera to be in a different position. With power dwindling, selfies aren’t worth draining batteries, and the robotic arm will go into rest mode (or “retirement mode”) this month, according to NASA.

At the press conference last week, Cathia Zamora Garcia, deputy director of the Insight project, said Earth rover science operations may end in mid-July, but the climate on Mars is unpredictable.

No matter how much time remains for InSight, we’ll probably never see the probe in such a great panorama again.

MORE: Dust storm sends China’s Mars rover into safe mode

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Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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