NASA’s InSight lander entered the surface of Mars in late 2018, and it was constructed to examine the core of the red planet for the first time. While some aspects of the mission have not gone as planned, the lander has survived longer in the brutal conditions than expected. However, nothing can last forever, and NASA now confesses that the mission is coming to an end by this year. It will start shutting off InSight’s instruments to conserve power in just a few weeks.
There’s nothing incorrect with the lander, but unlike the supposedly eternal Curiosity rover, InSight is static and relies on two 7-foot solar panels for power. Mars’ atmosphere is dusty, and a layer of particles has amassed on the panels. With power reserves plummeting, InSight will shortly go offline permanently.
InSight appeared on Mars on November 26, 2018, and in the subsequent weeks, it made history by deploying the first seismic sensor on a different planet. This instrument enabled scientists to estimate marsquakes, most of which were a bit more than a low rumble than quakes on Earth. However, the shaking allowed NASA to characterize the planet’s core like never before. At this degree, InSight’s solar panels were competent to produce 5,000 watt-hours each Martian day, but the figure has now lowered to just ten percent.