NASA says its Mars InSight lander may be in its final stages after its most recent encounter with a major dust storm.
Nasa’s InSight Mars lander got caught in another major dust storm in January while on the red planet, sending it into ‘safe mode.’
The Mars lander recovered from safe mode on January 17 and recently resumed normal operations on February 5.
However, the head of the project, Bruce Banerdt, still predicts the lander’s mission will be over within the year due to InSight’s decreasing power levels.
The reduced power levels were due to a significant build-up of debris on the ship’s solar panels from dust storms, which blocked a lot of the sunlight needed to power the lander.
Banerdt said that January dust storm “expanded very quickly” and did not provide “any early warning”.
However, although the storm was “quite dusty”, it was “not so dusty that it would actually threaten the spacecraft”, the mission is expected to end in December 2022.
“Our current projections indicate that energy will fall below what is needed to operate the tonnage in the May/June timeframe and possibly below survival for some time near the end of the year. ,” said the InSight investigator during a meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analyst Group, each SpaceNews.
As it stands, InSight will inevitably lose power, however, Nasa managed to delay the lander’s death by having it perform an exercise called salting.
The process involves the lander sweeping up dirt on Mars with its robotic arm and then dropping it onto solar panels so that the particles bounce off the array and remove some of the accumulated dust.
Banerdt says that while the exercise “sounds like a crazy thing to do,” it worked and increased the lifter’s energy by one to three percent each time.
Banerdt also notes that while it’s not entirely out of the question that the lander survived late last year, the team doesn’t “bet our mortgage on it.”
“We don’t have a crystal ball, but our best estimate is that we probably won’t get a lot of scientific data this past summer,” he added.
In other news, Nasa has upgraded Asteroid dangerous software with some key changes that will help it better detect potentially dangerous space rocks.
Nasa revealed Beautiful footage of solar energy burst into action.
And, the US space agency is planning for a ‘golden asteroid’ The exploratory mission will launch this summer.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/17588089/nasa-mars-lander-dust-storm/ Nasa warns its Mars lander could die after a vicious dust storm