NASA’s InSight lander has delivered what may be its last message from Mars, where it took part in a historic mission to reveal the secrets of the Red Planet’s interior.
In November, the space agency warned that the lander’s time could be coming to an end as dust continued to thicken and choke InSight’s power.
“The spacecraft’s power output continues to decline as windblown dust on its solar panels thickens,” Nasa wrote in a Nov. 2 update. “The end should come in the next few weeks.”
Related: NASA’s InSight lander reveals the internal structure of Mars
A post shared on Nasa InSight’s Twitter account on Monday read: “My power is really low so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and peaceful. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing here soon. Thanks for staying with me.
The robotic geologist, armed with a hammer and an earthquake monitor, first landed on the barren expanse of Elysium Planitia in November 2018.
He has since undertaken geological excavations, making the first measurements of Mars quakes using a high-tech seismometer placed directly on the Martian surface.
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The solar-powered lander released an update last month reminiscing about its time in space.
“I was lucky enough to live on two planets. Four years ago, I arrived safe and sound at the second, to the delight of my family back on the first. Thanks to my team for sending me on this journey of discovery. I hope I made you proud,” he said.
Since its deployment, Insight has measured more than 1,300 seismic events, and more than 50 of them had signals clear enough for the team to obtain information about their location on Mars, according to published mission results.
The lander data also provided details about Mars’ inner layers, its liquid core, the surprisingly variable remnants below the surface of its nearly extinct magnetic field, weather and seismic activity.
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Ahead of its launch in 2018, NASA chief scientist Jim Green said the mission was “fundamentally important to understanding the origin of our solar system and how it came to be what it is today.” today”.
Nasa won’t declare the mission complete until InSight misses two records with the spacecraft orbiting Mars relaying its information back to Earth.
In 2018, veteran Mars rover Opportunity declared the end of its 15-year mission by transmitting an incomplete image of Perseverance Valley.
An intense dust storm darkened the sky around the solar-powered rover, blotting out the Sun and leaving behind a dark image with white flecks from camera noise. Transmission stopped before the complete image could be sent.