NASA’s Mars lander is in a crisis of energy. In 2018, InSight called Elysium Planitia which landed in a Martian plain. It has detected more than 500 Marsquakes, felt more than 1oooo dust devils pass by, and measured the planet’s core. But for the past few months, it has been fighting for life as Mars’s unpredictable weather threatens to snuff out the robot.
More insight about Elysium Planitia –
Unlike other sites where NASA has sent rovers and landers, powerful gusts of wind have not been sweeping Elysium Planitia. These winds are needed to clear the red Martian dust off the solar panels of robots. A thick layer of dust has accumulated on Elysium Planitia, and it’s struggling to absorb sunlight. On February 14, the camera had captured an image of one of its solar panels covered in dust.
The solar panel produced just 27 percent of its energy capacity in February when winter was arriving on Elysium Planitia. Now NASA decided to put the robot in hibernation mode, and different instruments are switched each day. Every soon, the robot will close all functions that aren’t necessary for its survival. By haunting its scientific operations, the robot should save enough power, which will keep its systems warm in the frigid Martian nights. Temperatures during the night might drop to -130 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Insight project manager, “The amount of power available over the next few months will really be driven by the weather.”
The lander’s expected hibernation period is almost halfway through, it is still in good condition, but the risk of fatal power failure is always there. If the batteries die, then the lander will not recover. Insight’s principal investigator said that they are hopeful they will bring it back to life, especially if it’s not asleep or dead for an extended period. But it would be a dicey situation. Mars will swings back toward the sun in July, and NASA expects to restart Insight’s entire operations after this. If the lander can survive this Martian winter, the lander could keep listening for quakes and tracking weather into 2022.