In Space

InSight's final photograph

InSight Lander says Farewell, Concludes 4 year mission

After over 4 years of operation on the martian surface, NASA’s InSight lander has been declared over after a loss of communications with the lander.

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Ashe S.

Ashe S.

Wed Dec 21 2022Written by Ashe S.

After over 4 years of operation on the Martian surface, NASA’s InSight lander has been declared over after a loss of communications with the lander. InSight was the first dedicated geological mission on the red planet, being outfitted with seismometers and heat sensors used to study the composition of our planetary neighbor.

Launch & Landing

InSight took to the skies on May 4th, 2018, launching on ULA’s Atlas V 401 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After a 6 month trek, Insight landed on the surface of Mars on November 24th, 2018 in the Elysium Plantatia, a flat and placid area of Mars, allowing for accurate data to be collected by its finely tuned instruments. After a careful deployment sequence of its two solar arrays and its seismometer and heat probe by the manipulator arm, the InSight mission began its study of the red planet.

Operation & Legacy

Artists Rendering of InSight Lander and Science Suites

The InSight mission had many groundbreaking discoveries with its suite of instruments. Some highlights of the mission are the measurement of the largest 'marsquake' ever recorded and seismographic measurements of a meteor impact. During the deploy process for the heat probe, the drill process encountered a sudden and unexpected change in soil composition, which unveiled new soil layers, unveiling new soil properties of the Martian soil.

After 4 years of rigorous work, the solar panels of InSight began to slowly degrade as they became covered in layers of loose dust. Over the lifespan of the craft, this began to affect the amount of light able to reach the solar panels, and began to starve the lander of its battery reserves. When InSight reached critical levels, the lander was put on a safety mode to try to extend its lifetime, limiting the use of its scientific instruments. On December 15th, 2022, InSight sent its last communication to earth, and after 2 passes of mars, NASA had not received any communications from the craft and declared the retirement of the craft.