InSight, NASA’s Mars lander, had to deal with extreme Martian conditions for two years now. The most challenging part, however, was getting rid of dust off of its solar panels.
Thanks to the latest upgrade, InSight can now clear a bit more dust from its solar panels and continue its mission. NASA succeeded in finding an innovative way to help the Mars lander, and we have all the details.
Here is what you need to know.
The Power of the Wind
The NASA InSight team came up with a method of trickling sand near the lander’s panels. To try this, the team used the scoop on the lander’s robotic arm to trickle some sand next to the panels. The manoeuvre took place on May 22, around noon Mars time, when it’s the windiest time of the day.
The process was quite straightforward; the lander’s arm was positioned over the deck, which was just high enough for the winds to blow some sand off of the panels. As per NASA’s calculations, the wind’s speed was at a maximum of 6 meters (20 feet)/s.
Now, the lander might not have all the necessary power, but thanks to the recent cleaning, its power reserves will surely get a boost.
NASA Extends InSight’s Mission
InSight enrolled two years ago, in what it seemed back then, one of the most ambitious missions of exploring the Red Planet.
Its solar panels have endured the two-year prime mission they were developed for and are now successfully powering the lander through the two-year extension.
By August, as our planetary neighbour gets closer to the Sun, the lander’s panels should start gathering more energy so that NASA could turn back on the science instruments. More power is essential for such a task, and the InSight team could choose to turn on the instruments only for short periods when it’s much needed.
More data will be soon available as InSight will get back in action!