NASA’s InSight gets a few extra weeks of Mars science – NASA’s InSight Mars Lander

InSight final selfie: NASA’s InSight Mars spacecraft took this final selfie on April 24, 2022, the 1,211th Martian day, or sun, of the mission. The lander is covered in much more dust than in its first selfie, taken in December 2018, shortly after landing — or in its second selfie, made up of images taken in March and April 2019. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›


The mission team chose to run their seismograph longer than previously planned, although the lander runs out of power sooner as a result.


As the power available to NASA’s InSight Mars lander dwindles each day, the spacecraft team has revised the mission schedule to maximize the science they can conduct. The spacecraft is designed to automatically shut down the seismometer – InSight’s last operational science instrument – ​​by the end of June in order to conserve energy, surviving on the energy its dust-laden solar panels can generate until December.

Instead, the team now plans to program the lander so the seismometer can operate longer, perhaps until late August or early September. Doing so will drain the module’s batteries sooner and cause the spacecraft to run out of power at that time as well, but may allow the seismometer to detect additional marsquakes.

“InSight isn’t done teaching us about Mars yet,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Division of Planetary Science in Washington. “Let’s get all the science we can before the lander completes operations.”

The InSight team will be available to answer your questions directly on June 28 at 3 pm EDT (noon PDT) during a live streaming event on YouTube. Questions can be asked using the hashtag #AskNASA.

InSight (short for Inland Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is on an extended mission after achieving its science goals. The spacecraft has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes since landing on Mars in 2018, providing information that has allowed scientists to measure the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle and core. With its other instruments, InSight recorded invaluable meteorological data, probed the ground beneath the lander and studied 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 InSight Mars spacecraft uses a seismometer to study the inner layers of Mars. The seismic signals of earthquakes change as they pass through different types of materials; seismologists can “read” the squiggles of a seismogram to study the properties of the planet’s crust, mantle and core. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

All instruments except the seismograph have already been turned off. Like other Mars spacecraft, InSight has a failsafe system that automatically engages “safe mode” in threatening situations and shuts down all but the most essential functions, allowing engineers to assess the situation. Low power and temperatures exceeding predetermined limits can trigger safe mode.

To allow the seismograph to continue operating for as long as possible, the mission team is shutting down InSight’s failsafe system. While this allows the instrument to operate longer, it leaves the lander unprotected against sudden and unexpected events that ground controllers would not have time to respond to.

“The goal is to get scientific data to the point where InSight cannot operate, rather than saving power and operating the lander without any scientific benefit,” said Chuck Scott, InSight project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. in Southern California.

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

The InSight team will also be available to answer your questions directly on June 28 at 3 pm EDT (noon PDT) during a live streaming event on YouTube. Questions can be asked using the hashtag #AskNASA.

More about the mission

JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise and landing stage, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

Several European partners, including France’s Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator from IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions to SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the UK; and JPL. DLR provided the heat flux and physical properties package (HP3), with significant contributions from the Center for Space Research (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. The Centro de Astrobiologia de España (CAB) provided the temperature and wind sensors.

news media contacts

André Bom
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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