The InSight mission team chose to operate their seismograph longer than previously planned, although the lander runs out of power sooner as a result.
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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.
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 3pm EDT (noon PDT) during a live streaming event on YouTube. Questions can be asked using the hashtag #AskNASA.
More about the mission