NASA’s InSight lander has delivered its final message from Mars, where it has been on a historic mission to reveal the secrets of the Red Planet’s interior.
In November, the space agency warned that the lander’s time could be coming to an end as the dust grew thicker and choked the power of the InSight.
“Spacecraft power generation continues to decline as the windblown dust on the solar arrays thickens,” NASA wrote in a Nov. 2 update. “The end is expected to come in the coming weeks.”
A message shared Monday on NASA InSight’s Twitter account read: “My power is very low so this may be the last image I can send. But don’t worry about me: 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 shortly. Thank you for staying with me.”
Armed with a hammer and earthquake monitor, the robotic geologist first landed on the barren expanse of Elysium Planitia in November 2018.
It has since conducted geological excavations and made the first measurements of marsquakes using a hi-tech seismometer placed directly on the surface of Mars.
The solar-powered lander released an update last month, reminiscing about its time in space.
“I was lucky enough to live on two planets. Four years ago I arrived safely at the second, much to the delight of my family at the first. Thanks to my team for sending me on this journey of discovery. I hope I’ve made you proud,” it read.
Since deployment, Insight has measured more than 1,300 seismic events, and more than 50 of those had clear enough signals for the team to infer information about their location on Mars, according to published mission results.
The lander’s data has also revealed details about Mars’ inner layers, the liquid core, the surprisingly variable subsurface remnants of the largely extinct magnetic field, weather and earthquake activity.
Ahead of the 2018 launch, NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green said the mission was “fundamental to understanding the origins of our solar system and how it came to be what it is today.”
NASA won’t end the mission until InSight misses two check-ins with the Mars-orbiting spacecraft sending its information back to Earth.
In 2018, the veteran Mars rover Opportunity declared the end of its 15-year mission by sending an incomplete image of Perseverance Valley.
An intense dust storm darkened the sky around the solar-powered rover, obscuring the sun and leaving a dark image with white flecks from the camera noise. Transmission stopped before the entire image could be sent.