One of NASA’s Mars robots has taken one last selfie as it powers down for good.
The agency released a photo of the InSight lander covered in red Martian dust on Monday, along with an announcement that the robot’s arms will soon be placed in a “retirement pose” as it begins to shut down operations for good, according to a press release. Since its solar panels are covered in dust, it produces less power. As such, it won’t be able to perform its usual functions over the coming months.
When compared to its first selfie taken on December 6, 2018, you can really see the difference a few years on Mars without a vacuum can do to a lander.
InSight was launched to the Red Planet on May 5, 2018 and landed six months later as part of a mission to study Mars’ deep interior. Over the course of its more than four years, InSight collected valuable data into the seismic activity on the planet. In fact, it detected the first ever quake on another planet and has since recorded more than 1,300 “marsquakes.”
The lander was also able to collect data on the Red Planet’s weather patterns, surviving several dust and wind storms over the past years. The information will help guide future Mars missions including colonization efforts for decades to come. The agency said that the lander is now slated to enter a lower-power mode in an effort to continue detecting seismic events in July 2022, and will officially end operations in December 2022.
InSight can rest easy as its scientific discoveries will outlive it and we continue our efforts to colonize the solar system. Hopefully, the next time we head to Mars, someone remembers to pack a feather duster.
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