Nasa’s InSight lander has delivered what could be its final message from Mars, where it has been on a history-making mission to reveal the secrets of the Red Planet’s interior.
In November the space agency warned the lander’s time may becoming to an end as dust continued to thicken and choke out the InSight’s power.
“The spacecraft’s power generation continues to decline as windblown dust on its solar panels thickens,” Nasa wrote in an update on 2 November. “The end is expected to come in the next few weeks.”
A message shared on the Nasa InSight Twitter account on Monday read: “My power’s really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me.”
The robotic geologist, armed with a hammer and quake monitor, first touched down on the barren expanse of Elysium Planitia in November 2018.
It has since undertaken geologic excavations, making the first measurements of marsquakes using a hi-tech seismometer placed directly on the Martian surface.
The solar-powered lander issued an update last month, reminiscing on its time in space.
“I’ve been lucky enough to live on two planets. Four years ago, I arrived safely at the second one, to the delight of my family back on the first. Thanks to my team for sending me on this journey of discovery. Hope I’ve done you proud,” it said.
Since its deployment, Insight has measured over 1,300 seismic events, and more than 50 of them had clear enough signals for the team to derive information about their location on Mars, according to published mission results.
The lander data has also yielded details about Mars’ interior layers, its liquid core, the surprisingly variable remnants beneath the surface of its mostly extinct magnetic field, weather and quake activity.