InSight, the NASA lander stationed on Mars since 2018, has retired. In May, NASA officials warned that the lander could become unusable by the end of the year due to the accumulation of dust on its solar panels. This would reduce its power source.
NASA had announced that the mission was close to its end in November and began taking steps towards winding it down.
The lander also made its impending demise clear via Twitter, which provided regular updates to its almost 800,000 followers in a tone of mournful acceptance.
It’s shared new discoveries, pledges to keep operating as long as it can, news of its coming retirement, tributes to friends made along the way, and thanks to the well-wishers who sent it postcards from around the world. It posted Monday afternoon Eastern Time what could be its last update, an image of the planet’s rocky surface.
The lander tweeted, “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.”
NASA posted a blog post stating that InSight hadn’t responded to Earth communications the day before. It stated that its last contact occurred on Thursday and it is not yet known what caused the “change in its energy.”
The team will attempt to reach the lander again. NASA will cancel the mission if InSight fails two consecutive communication sessions, but that doesn’t sound optimistic.
The agency stated, “The lander’s power has been declining for months, as expected, and it’s assumed InSight may have reached its end of operations.”