NASA’s Insight Gets a Few Extra Weeks of Mars Science – NASA’s Insight Mars Probe

Final selfie for InSight: NASA’s Mars Insight lander captured this last selfie on April 24, 2022, which is 1211 Mars, or Sol. The lander is covered in much more dust than it was in its first selfie, taken in December 2018, shortly after its landing — or in its second selfie, made up of photos taken in March and April 2019. Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech. downloading pictures


The mission team chose to run the seismometer longer than previously planned, although the probe will soon run out of power as a result.


As the power available for NASA’s Mars InSight lander is dwindling by the day, the spacecraft team revised the mission’s timeline in order to maximize the science they can conduct. The probe was expected to automatically shut down the seismometer – InSight’s last operational science instrument – by the end of June in order to conserve energy, staying power that the dust-laden solar panels could generate until around December.

Instead, the team now plans to program the probe so the seismometer will run longer, possibly until the end of August or early September. Doing so will drain the probe’s batteries sooner and cause the spacecraft to run out of power at that time as well, but it may enable the seismometer to detect more earthquakes.

“Insight hasn’t finished teaching us about Mars yet,” said Laurie Glaese, director of planetary sciences at NASA in Washington. “We’ll have the last bit of science we can get before the probe finishes its operations.”

The InSight team will be available to answer your questions live on June 28 at 3 PM EST (noon PDT) during our YouTube Live event. Questions can be asked using the hashtag #AskNASA.

InSight (an acronym for Inland Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Thermal Transport) is on an extended mission after achieving its science goals. The probe has detected more than 1,300 earthquakes since it touched Mars in 2018, providing information that allowed scientists to measure the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle and core. Using its other instruments, InSight recorded invaluable weather data, examined the soil beneath the rover, and studied the remnants of Mars’ ancient magnetic field.

This image shows an illustration of how InSight studies the inner layers of Mars.

How InSight studies the inner layers of Mars (illustration): NASA’s Mars Insight probe uses a seismometer to study the inner layers of Mars. Seismic signals change from earthquakes as they pass through different types of material; Seismologists can “read” the wobble of a seismogram to study the properties of the planet’s crust, mantle, and core. Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech. downloading pictures

All instruments except for the seismometer are already turned off. Like other Mars spacecraft, InSight has a failure protection system that automatically turns on “safe mode” in threatening situations and shuts down all but the most important of its functions, allowing engineers to assess the situation. Low power and temperatures drifting outside preset limits can trigger Safe Mode to run.

To enable the seismometer to continue operating as long as possible, the mission team is turning off the InSight fault protection system. While this will enable the device to operate longer, it leaves the lander unprotected from sudden and unexpected events to which the ground controllers will not have time to respond.

said Chuck Scott, InSight project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Regular updates on the power of InSight and feedback from mission team members will appear at blogs.nasa.gov/insight.

The InSight team will also be available to answer your questions live on June 28 at 3PM ET (noon PT) during our YouTube Live event. Questions can be asked using the hashtag #AskNASA.

More about the mission

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the InSight program of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, which is managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Corporation of Denver built the Insight spacecraft, including a cruise stage and lander, and supports the mission’s spacecraft operations.

A number of European partners, including the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. The National Center for Space Studies has provided the Inner Structure Seismic Experiment (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator of the IPGP (Institut de Physiques de la Physique in the World in Paris). Important contributions to the Common Environmental Information System came from the IPGP; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the UK; and JPL. DLR introduced the Heat Flow and Physical Properties (HP .) package3), with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronomy in Poland. The Centro de Astrobiology Center (CAB) in Spain supplied temperature and wind sensors.

News Media Communication

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
301-286-6284/202-358-1501
karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

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