Tuesday, December 27, 2022
NASA's InSight Mars lander runs out of juice, sends one final dusty picture back home before hibernating.
The last picture sent from the lander on Dec. 15th. Looks like a dusty junkyard.
"The agency will continue to listen for a signal from the lander, just in case, but hearing from it at this point is considered unlikely," reads a press release from NASA Thursday.
NASA was counting on gusts of wind to help clear inevitable dust buildup off of InSight's solar panels but the landing area had far less wind than expected. At one point the team used InSight's robotic arm to dump soil onto the solar panels in the hopes that it would scrub off the dust.
Ok, this perplexes me. The atmosphere on Mars is so thin that it would qualify as a vacuum in a laboratory. Why would you assume that the "wind" on Mars would blow the dust off? And given the effort and expense of these probes, why is plan B to dump dirt on the solar panels? This seems ad hoc.
Anyway, bye bye faithful little lander. Never fear, some day Elon the Astronaut will come to Mars and bring you home.