Due to the recent unexpectedly gentle nature of Mars’ weather, InSight lander is not dead yet!
The unexpectedly balmy Mars weather has just postponed NASA InSight lander’s death. This comes as a big relief for NASA scientists, as earlier it was expected the Mars lander would run out of power by the end of this summer. Back in November 2018, NASA’s InSight lander landed on the red planet with the aim of helping scientists see deep into Mars. By now, the lander was expected to run out of power and die. However, InSight has proved quite resilient and has shown that rumours of its passing were quite premature as it is still working on collecting data with full power and it may continue to do so for next few months, possibly till January 2023, a space. com report suggested.
However, it is still dependent on the Mars weather. If a dust storm or any other natural calamity occurs on the red planet, it may decrease the expected running time for InSight, Chuck Scott, project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Space.com. Any kind of disturbance due to the Mars Weather can end the mission, he suggested.
How Mars’ weather plays an important role in InSight’s life
The amount of dust accumulated on InSight’s solar panels and the amount of dust in the Martian atmosphere are the two broad factors that determine how much power InSight can generate. Other Mars missions have encountered the same issue: Although the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers are powered by nuclear energy, their predecessors, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers struggled with dust. In fact, a dust storm forced Opportunity’s mission to end.
But thanks to the ongoing weather on Mars. Spirit and Opportunity have found unexpected support from events such as bursts of wind, which helped to remove dust and intensified their power production. However, InSight hasn’t got such aid.
At this moment, InSight is entering a season when NASA scientists normally experience some regional dust storms and that does not augur well for the rover.