Earlier this week, the Mars lander InSight captured a bleak Martian sunrise. Since its arrival on Mars in 2018, the probe has shot thousands of photographs as well as gathered some fascinating scientific data on the planet’s geology.
InSight’s official Twitter account wrote, “I’ll never tire of sunrise on Mars.” “Each morning, that distant dot rises higher in the sky, giving me the energy to listen to the rumbles beneath my feet for another cycle.”
What is the significance of the Sun to InSight?
InSight’s day-to-day (or should I say sol-to-sol) operations rely heavily on sunlight. Two 7-foot-wide solar panels on the rover produce around 3,000 watt-hours per Martian day. InSight is so reliant on solar panels that it landed near the equator to get the most light.
Planetary research is fueled by all that sunshine. The acronym InSight stands for “Innards Exploration utilizing Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport,” and it’s a collection of sensors designed to investigate the planet’s geologic past and interior.
First, InSight deployed a seismometer on Mars’ surface to detect any “marsquakes,” with the data allowing scientists to create a 3D image of the planet’s innards. Its radio communication system is also transmitting exact information on Mars’ rotation and wobble to Earth. The mission’s findings may give more information on how the solar system’s rocky interior planets developed.
What’s the status of the InSight mission?
InSight has been operating on Mars for three years and 140 days, and it has encountered several difficulties. The mission’s heat probe, or Mole, was supposed to be a big component of it, but NASA had to scrap it after two years of futile digging attempts.
Excessive dust had settled on the solar panels recently, jeopardizing the entire project. On the plus side, it appears that power levels have leveled off. Let’s hope everything goes smoothly until at least December 2022, when the probe is scheduled to be retired.
“Our InSight lander took this photo of Martian dawn on the plains of Elysium Planitia on April 10, 2022, the 1198th sol (or Martian day) of its mission.”
InSight is NASA’s first project to investigate the interior of Mars in detail, including its crust, mantle, and core. InSight has measured hundreds of “Marsquakes,” studied mysterious magnetic pulses, and provided us with incredible views like this one, thanks to its seismometer and other scientific instruments.
What we’re learning from InSight will not only reveal how planets like Mars first formed, but it will also help us understand the Red Planet’s patterns as we prepare for humans to explore Mars on future NASA missions.
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