NASA’s InSight lander is completely caked with a thick layer of Martian dust in its latest selfie, which the agency says will likely be the last of the mission.
In addition, Insight’s position on Mars, Elysium Planitia , is beginning to change seasonally. Over the next few months, there will be more dust and less sunlight in the Martian atmosphere, and Insight’s power will be reduced as a result. The team has worked hard to remove some dust in the past, but it will take a vigorous dust removal campaign to reverse the current predicament in the face of the massive Martian “dust cyclone.
And Insight didn’t include a secondary system to clean off dust, relying instead on passing dust devils or strong breezes to clean the lander.
Based on this pessimistic fact, Insight has officially confirmed that it will end its work in July and is expected to shut down completely at the end of this year.
But like the unprecedented earthquake that hit Mars on May 4, Insight may have had a miracle happen to it.
“It’s exceeded our expectations at just about every turn on Mars, and so it may actually last longer than that,” Bruce Banerdt, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s principal investigator for the mission, told reporters during the May 17 press conference.
At last, at some point in the near future, Insight will stop working. But we also believe there will soon be another rover landing somewhere on Mars, equipped with the same instruments as Insight, to help humans continue to explore the mysteries of the Martian interior.