- The team will keep InSight’s seismometers on for a few more weeks
- This will help collect more data, although the lander will be discharged sooner
- The lander has provided valuable data since landing on Mars in 2018
NASA’s InSight Mars lander is on its way to retirement, but it’s not ready to stop providing scientific data just yet. The team behind it made a minor change to the lander’s retirement plans.
The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander has provided valuable data since it landed on Mars in 2018, but it is now on its way to retirement, with its energy-producing solar panels already covered in dust. In fact, the lander has its last selfie back in April.
However, it seems that InSight will provide more data for a while. Initially, InSight was predicted to shut down its last instrument in late June, end operations over the summer, and eventually become unusable in December, NASA noted in a function.
Now the team plans to program it so that the last instrument, the seismometer, would continue to operate until August or even September. While the plan would ensure that InSight would run out of power sooner, it will add a few more weeks to its science operations, during which it may be able to detect even more Marsquakes.
“The goal is to get scientific data to the point where InSight can no longer work at all, rather than save energy and let the lander operate with no scientific benefit,” said Chuck Scott, InSight project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
InSight detected more than 1,300 Marsquakes during its mission. This includes the magnitude 5″monster earthquake‘ it discovered in May, which was the ‘largest ever on another planet’.
The plan is to disable the Marslander’s “fault protection system” to expand its mission. This is the system that activates “safe mode,” which shuts down all functions except the essential ones in threatening situations, NASA explained.
“Now that the mission objectives have been achieved, my retirement is on the horizon. But as my strength wanes, my focus widens: I’ll keep my seismometer going and record marsquakes as long as I have energy. Every bit of science counts,” a tweet from Read NASA InSight Twitter account.
“InSight is not done teaching us about Mars,” added Lori Glaze, the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “We’re going to gather every last bit of science we can before the lander ends its operations.”
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