Amid reports of declining power levels, NASA’s InSight lander appears to be keeping its science instruments running through the summer.
InSight has been on Mars since 2018 and far exceeds the original mission duration. But the lifetime was determined by two experts of finance and power. The former is set to run until the end of 2022 as part of a two-year mission extension. However, the latter is proving challenging as dust accumulates on the lander’s solar panels.
due to the hard work of my team solar energy is better At the beginning of the year we thought we would stop collecting science for six months. Now I’m going to work most of the summer. This is all the science “bonus”; since I achieved my main mission goal. pic.twitter.com/ovC52IjIVo
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) June 25, 2021
Even if the power is reduced But the team hopes to have However, while InSight’s weather sensors detected whirlwinds, no one was able to lift the dust off the panel. Attempts to use a motor mounted on a solar panel to remove some of the dust also failed.
A report last week paints a rather murky picture for the lander. by various tools That would likely be switched off to extract available energy before Mars is at its furthest point from the Sun.
at the beginning of last month Engineers turned to the instinctive method of cleaning panels. With sand flowing from the lap of the worker’s robotic arm, it landed near the panel. In the hopes that larger grains might take away some of the smaller dust particles. The process seems to be running to a power margin to keep InSight tools running, for now at least.
a NASA spokesperson said registration: “We’ve been expecting this for almost a year… The resulting energy fall from Mars will be further from the Sun. no matter how much dust on our dashboards.”
It’s not a completely smooth mission for the lander. The most notable thing is A significant part of the package’s “Mole” payload, heat flow and physical properties (HP3) was effectively eliminated earlier this year. After failing to dig anywhere near the expected depth of 5 meters due to surprising reasons, soil type, however, seismometers (SEIS), radio experiments (RISE) and weather instruments are still in use. work
The mission has been extended until December 2022, although no But the team still has a challenging time ahead. While the latest update proudly announces that things should continue for most of the summer, the Mars Solar Conjunction, due in October, cuts off communication while Earth and Mars are onshore. cross of the sun Energy levels will drop again in 2022.
Why not use a brush or blow dryer to dust? “Arranging the spacecraft with brushes or fans to remove dust adds weight and bugs,” NASA explains.
“Some citizens are advised to use the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter spiral blades to remove the InSight panels,” the agency added. “But that was not an option either: the operation would be too risky and the helicopter was about 2,145 miles or 3,452 kilometers away.”
So there ®