Mars mission »InSight« terminated due to dusty solar panels

U.S. space agency NASA on Wednesday (Dec. 20) declared the mission of the »InSight« geophysical station, which landed on Mars in 2018, ended after the mission control center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was unable to extend contact since Dec. 15. The lander’s solar panels can no longer power its systems because they are too covered with dust (the photo shows the condition in April 2022). Only if, contrary to expectations, a storm blows enough dust off the modules could InSight leave its »dead bus mode« once again.
The InSight mission was originally planned to last two years, but was extended for another two years because the station could still be powered despite the already heavy dust buildup. In May of last year, NASA had been able to remove at least some dust from the modules through a tricky maneuver with the robotic arm before Mars reached the point of greatest distance from Earth (»aphelion«).

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