Continent-sized dust storm threatens InSight mission on Mars (photo)

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A continent-sized dust storm threatens the InSight mission on Mars (photo)

NASA has acknowledged in recent months that the end of the InSight mission to Mars is near. Due to bad weather, the solar panels are generating less power than is needed for the operation of the main devices of the module.

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A large-scale dust storm has begun on Mars, which threatens NASA's InSight mission. Dust makes generating electricity much more difficult. Space reports this.

In recent months, scientists have acknowledged that the end of the InSight mission to Mars is near. Solar panels are constantly buried under a thick layer of dust. A continent-sized dust storm is eclipsing the Martian sky, further impacting power generation.

“If we can survive this, we can keep working through the winter, but I'll be worried about the next storm,” said InSight project leader Chuck Scott.

The lander needs an average of about 300 watt-hours of power to operate its core functions. This week, the craft produced just 275 watt-hours per sol (Martian day). It is worth noting that NASA expected InSight to end at the end of summer, but the weather on Mars turned out to be favorable. The staff knew even then that the mission could end after the first dust storm.

A continent-sized dust storm threatens the InSight mission on Mars (photo)

A dust storm the size of a continent threatens the InSight mission on Mars (photo)

NASA decided to turn off the seismometer – this is the last working tool of the module. It was turned off to conserve power in hopes of weathering the storm. According to MRO observations, the growth of the dust storm has slowed down and its clouds are not growing as fast. Even if this event subsides, sooner or later a new storm will break out. NASA does not plan to send a team to complete the mission. InSight will just shut up one day when it runs out of energy.