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

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. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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

As the energy available for

NASA 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 spacecraft is covered in much more dust than in its first selfie, taken in December 2018 shortly after landing — or in its second selfie, comprised of images taken in March and April 2019. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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.

InSight First Selfie Mars

This is the first full NASA InSight selfie on Mars. It displays the solar panels and lander deck. On top of the deck are its science instruments, weather sensor booms, and UHF antenna. The selfie was taken on December 6, 2018 (Sun 10). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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.

Insight selfie

This is the second full NASA InSight selfie on Mars. Since taking its first selfie, the spacecraft has removed its heat probe and seismometer from its deck, placing them on the Martian surface; a thin layer of dust now covers the spacecraft as well. This selfie is a mosaic made up of 14 images taken on March 15 and April 11 – the 106th and 133rd Martian days, or suns, of the mission – by InSight’s Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its robotic arm. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“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

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