NASA begins countdown to the end of the Insight mission on Mars

NASA begins countdown to the end of the Insight mission on Mars

But InSight, a robotic probe stationary on Mars, is steadily getting weaker as dust builds up on its solar panels.

But InSight, a robotic probe stationary on Mars, is steadily getting weaker as dust builds up on its solar panels.

Mission managers predict that by late summer it will not have enough power to keep its machines running and that by the end of the year it will shut down.

Mission managers predict that by late summer it will not have enough power to keep its machines running and that by the end of the year it will shut down.

“It’s just because of the lack of power,” Cathia Zamora Garcia, deputy project scientist for the mission, said during a news conference on Tuesday.

“It’s just because of the lack of power,” Cathia Zamora Garcia, deputy project scientist for the mission, said during a news conference on Tuesday.

The spacecraft could be in luck if a dust demon — a miniature whirlwind swirling along the Martian Earth — passes and blows dust off the solar panels.

The spacecraft could be in luck if a dust demon — a miniature whirlwind swirling along the Martian Earth — passes and blows dust off the solar panels.

Although several thousand dust demons were discovered in the area, none of them helped clean up InSight.

Although several thousand dust demons were discovered in the area, none of them helped clean up InSight.

“We’re not very optimistic given that three and a half years have passed and we haven’t seen one yet,” said Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator at InSight, “but it still could happen.”

“We’re not very optimistic given that three and a half years have passed and we haven’t seen one yet,” said Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator at InSight, “but it still could happen.”