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NASA Says Goodbye to InSight Mars Module

NASA’s InSight lander may have called home for the last time from the planet Mars.

The space agency said the spacecraft did not respond to communications from Earth on Sunday, December 18. The lack of communication was due to the fact that in recent months the power of the descent vehicle was reduced due to the accumulation of Martian dust on its solar panels. NASA said it is “assumed” that InSight has completed its mission, but will still continue to attempt to contact the lander in the coming days.

Although the module is still running, its operations team of 25-30 people, quite a bit compared to other Martian missions, has begun to take steps to gracefully complete the job.

The most important last step in InSight’s mission is to store the dataset and make it available to researchers around the world. The data from the module provided detailed information about the inner layers of Mars, its liquid core, the remnants of a largely extinct magnetic field, the weather in this part of Mars, and a large number of marsquakes.

The InSight seismometer provided by the French National Center for Space Research (CNES) has detected more than 1,300 quakes since the lander landed in November 2018.

NASA will announce the end of the mission when InSight misses two consecutive communication sessions with the device in near-Martian orbit, which is part of the relay network.

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