The InSight lander have transmitted a photo (which is believed to be the last one) from Mars after NASA told they had lost contact with the lander. The wide-angle shot shows the area in front of the landing module under the rays of the daytime Sun. Also the seismograph is visible attached to the base, as well as a robotic arm in the upper left corner. Most importantly, a very large layer of dust covering InSight is visible.
The historic InSight mission was designed to study the crust, mantle, core and seismic activity of Mars. Over four years, the device managed to register 1,300 Marsquakes, which turned out to be much weaker than Earthquakes. Nevertheless, last week, just before turning off, the module even managed to register the record Marsquake during the entire time of research.
Back in May, NASA announced that InSight would likely cease operations by the end of 2022. The space agency published a selfie that showed how much dust had accumulated on the spacecraft after a powerful storm. The dust prevented getting enough solar energy to charge the internal batteries, so that they were not able to support the full operation of all the devices. As of November, the spacecraft was producing only 20% of the energy it had when it landed on Mars in November 2018.
On Monday night, the InSight Twitter account shared a message: “My power’s 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 serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me.”
As for now NASA are not giving up hope of contacting InSight. After all, the space agency will announce the official termination of the mission only when the device does not respond to several communication sessions in a row.
We previously reported on how the InSight mission is winding down.