The seismometer of NASA’s Mars InSight lander will remain in use for several weeks longer to detect Marsquakes. The lander will therefore run out of power faster, reports the space agency.
InSight was launched in May 2018 and in November of that year the spacecraft landed on the surface of Mars. Since then, the lander has detected more than 1,300 Marsquakes, among other things.
Recently, NASA announced that InSight is losing power. As a result, the lander has only a few months to live. The space agency said the lander will be discontinued by the end of the year.
That will probably be a little earlier, NASA now reports. Actually, the intention was to switch off the seismometer – an instrument that can detect earthquakes on Mars – at the end of this month.
NASA has now decided to keep the seismometer active for longer, probably until late August or early September. As a result, InSight’s batteries will run out faster. The spacecraft will probably stop much earlier, but it will be able to detect Marsquakes for longer.
The lander’s loss of power is due to the amount of dust that has accumulated on the spacecraft’s solar panels. The lander is equipped with two solar panels that are each about 2.2 meters wide. The dust limits the amount of power the lander can draw from.