The InSight probe will stop collecting ground-based data from Mars in July

The Insight spacecraft will stop collecting scientific data on earthquakes and the formation of Mars’ interior when Earth’s calendars reach the end of July. After that moment, the probe should have a significantly reduced capacity to collect data, with operations expected to end in December.

NASA scientists justified this undesirable end by the fact that the 2.2-meter-wide solar panels were covered in Martian dust, and also that weather conditions reduced the amount of energy captured from the sun.

Originally, the Mars mission was to collect scientific data over two years on Earth. NASA fulfilled this plan, and ended up expanding the mission beyond the original plan. But for that, he had to rely on something that any Portuguese would soon attempt to classify as a workaround.

Faced with the fact that solar panels capture less sunlight, scientists have decided to use robotic arm services that were originally designed to ensure that sensors are installed in the ground and underground with a new function: removing dust from solar panels.

NASA officials remember that they used the robotic arm on these remote-controlled interventions half a dozen times to ensure operability additions — but for now there wouldn’t be much that could be done. “One day there will be technology that will allow you to keep solar panels clean,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, predicts at a press conference.

This long-awaited day has yet to come, as confirmed by data provided by NASA on the end of this space mission: at the beginning of the mission, solar panels captured, each of Mars’ days, 5,000 watts per hour. It is the energy corresponding to 40 minutes of running an electric oven. With a layer of Mars dust, solar panels can capture the energy needed to run an electric furnace for just 10 minutes.

NASA scientists won’t be let down by the end of the mission—not even with the limitations they found on Earth, which limited data capture for one of the probes. Bruce Banerdt, Principal Investigator of the Insight mission, wasn’t particularly disappointed by the data collection limitations, but rather expressed satisfaction with InSight’s services, “given the risks of landing on Mars.”

After 3.5 years of collecting data from Elysium Planitia (which can read as “Elysium Plain” if the Portuguese translation is at all adopted), NASA’s probe should collect the arm of the so-called “repair site” during the spring.

In that time, the seismometer has to keep collecting data, and if you’re lucky enough that it hasn’t always been standardized in this task, it will eventually be able to replicate picking up data that indicates a major earthquake like the one recorded on May 4, with a strong 5 degrees, ensuring direct entry to the top of earthquakes detected on another planet.

It wasn’t just the name that had to be changed to remind lay people and scientists that earthquakes recorded on the Red Planet should now be called “swamps” or “Mars quakes,” rather than quakes and quakes. “It was a turning point in the study of earthquakes on Mars,” Bruce Banerdt says of the magnitude 5 earthquake. The probe recorded more than 1,300 earthquakes during its time on Mars.

Officials don’t consider the space mission a lost sight and remember that it allowed for more accurate measurements and descriptions of Mars’ crust, mantle, and mineral core. Many revelations may come later.

After stopping data collection for scientific purposes around July, the probe is expected to operate through the end of the year with the remaining functions. But on Earth, and more specifically in NASA labs, the remainder of the mission budget should be directed toward extracting and processing scientific data and making it available to the scientific community.

This latest extension of the assignment should last approximately six months. Awaiting scientists is the possibility of applying knowledge to other planets – even to Earth.

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