Dead robot spotted by NASA spacecraft on Mars surface – Times of India

In a remarkable display of cosmic archaeology, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured images of the InSight lander, a silent sentinel on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft, which ended its mission in December 2022, now lies dormant, its shape being gradually reclaimed by Mars’ red dust.

The InSight lander’s journey began with a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5, 2018 aboard an Atlas V rocket. It landed on November 26, 2018 on Elysium Planitia, a flat, smooth plain near Mars’ equator. This location was chosen for its geological significance and potential to fulfill InSight’s science goals of studying the interior of Mars and providing unprecedented capabilities. insights into the tectonics and thermal history of Mars.

During its operational life, InSight has made numerous contributions to our understanding of the Red Planet. More than 1,300 Marsquakes were detected, showing that Mars is far from geologically inactive. These vibrations ranged from faint rumblings to a significant seismic event that shook the lander’s sensitive instruments. InSight’s seismometer, placed directly on the surface of Mars, listened for these faint whispers of internal activity, allowing scientists to solve the puzzle of Mars’ internal structure.

InSight was also equipped with a heat probe, nicknamed “the mole,” designed to burrow into the Martian soil. However, the probe faced challenges in penetrating the unexpectedly lumpy soil and ultimately failed to reach its intended depth. Despite this setback, the data collected provided valuable information about the thermal properties of the Martian subsurface.

The lander’s weather station reported daily updates on temperature, wind and pressure, contributing to an extensive dataset on Martian meteorology. These reports have helped scientists understand the dynamics of Mars’ atmosphere and its seasonal changes.

Unlike its rover counterparts Perseverance and Curiosity, which are powered by nuclear energy, InSight relied on solar panels for energy. Over time, these panels collected a thick layer of Martian dust, reducing their efficiency. The gradual decline in power was anticipated and the mission team made every effort to maximize the lander’s operational life. Finally, the inevitable happened: InSight’s batteries ran out and the mission came to an end.

The latest images from NASA’s InSight lander, captured by the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, poignantly illustrate the lander’s gradual assimilation into the Martian environment. Over time, the buildup of the planet’s ubiquitous red dust has begun to obscure the lander’s once distinctive features, such as its solar panels and central body. This natural process of weathering on Mars serves as a silent witness to the dynamic and ever-changing conditions on the Red Planet, even as the InSight lander completes its historic mission of exploring the planet’s interior.

Other missions have made their mark on Mars, including the Phoenix lander, the Opportunity rover and the Ingenuity helicopter. These machines, now remnants of exploration, rest quietly on the surface of Mars as their missions are completed. They serve as milestones on our journey to understand our planetary neighbor and the broader universe.

As the years pass, the InSight lander will remain surrounded by the Martian environment, its presence a fixed point in the shifting sands of time. It is a symbol of curiosity and the enduring human spirit to explore the unknown. Mars, a world with a history of water and volcanic activity, now hosts these silent sentinels, witnesses to the continued exploration of our solar system.

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