This InSight on Mars selfie will likely be his last

It is certainly the ultimate self-portrait captured by the InSight mission to the Red Planet. The lander used its arm to take this “dusty” selfie in late April 2022, presumably for the last time on Mars.

After 4 years of mission on Mars, InSight’s death seems imminent. NASA will certainly have to end the mission of its lander, which specializes in detecting earthquakes on the red planet. The space agency presented what appeared to be the final selfie from the Mars mission on May 24, 2022.

One last dusty selfie for InSight before the end

That ” dusty self-portrait was received on April 24th. NASA presented the image as a GIF so they could compare this latest InSight selfie to its very first, taken in December 2018. now covered with dust.

InSight’s first and last selfies on Mars. // Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

When this last selfie was taken, InSight was on Sol 1.211 (the name of the day on Mars) of its mission. It’s the lander’s robotic arm that’s used to get this kind of selfie: it has to move multiple times to take an entire selfie, NASA explains. We therefore understand why this selfie is likely to be the last for InSight. While the dust-covered solar panels produce little energy, InSight’s arm must be returned to its resting position. This will happen for the last time of the mission by the end of May 2022.

The energy problems encountered by the InSight mission were dealt with on a daily basis. In 2021, advances could be made, including an amazing maneuver to clean one of the solar panels: deposit even more dust on it. Nevertheless, the hour of farewell seems inevitable. In the region where the mission landed, called Elysium Planitia, the amount of dust in the air should soon increase.

This should reduce the amount of sunlight the lander can capture (thus further limiting the energy available). If a dust devil doesn’t come along soon to clean the solar panels, InSight will have to retire by December 2022.

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