Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Breaking - Mars InSight Goes Silent

The news broke as I was typing up yesterday's column on the Mars InSight probe's large marsquake discovery that the probe had gone silent had not responded to commands on the last attempt to communicate.  Unfortunately, that linked website (and everything at blogs.nasa.gov) was down when I was working and that post wasn't there later as the site started responding again.  I didn't see this Tweet until just now.

The InSight blog simply says the following:

On Dec. 18, 2022, NASA’s InSight did not respond to communications from Earth. The lander’s power has been declining for months, as expected, and it’s assumed InSight may have reached its end of operations. It’s unknown what prompted the change in its energy; the last time the mission contacted the spacecraft was on Dec. 15, 2022.

The mission will continue to try and contact InSight.

This is very reminiscent of "Good Night Oppy" that I talked about back on December 4th (second half of that post).  Eric Berger at Ars Technica apparently found out this morning or late last night and dedicated a short post to InSight

InSight landed on Mars in 2018 with the aim of studying seismic activity. It has been a success—InSight has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes, including a relatively powerful magnitude 4.7 quake on May 4. This was the largest marsquake detected to date and at the upper limit of what scientists hoped to observe. This seismic activity has allowed scientists to tease out details about the inner structure of the red planet.

However, during its operations on Mars, dust has steadily accumulated on the stationary lander's solar panels. By May 2022, the panels were producing just 500 watt-hours of energy, a tenth of what they could generate upon landing on Mars. Since then, its power levels have steadily declined to the point where InSight does not have the juice necessary to radio back to Earth.


Look, I'm not sure why water is running down from your eyes. But speaking for myself, that's Martian dust causing tears to come out of my eyes. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

The photograph of InSight's Seismometer from the above tweet, with some minor brightness and contrast stretching to lighten it up, done by me.  NASA/JPL-Caltech original.


  1. Future landers should have means to get rid of dust. Turn vertical and shake.

  2. All future landers need a combo of solar and nuclear power. Or just go nuclear and enjoy landers that have constant power for decades.

    1. Good luck getting THAT with the Greenies running the world!

    2. If the greenies are hell bent on killing as much of humanity as they seem to be by ending the use of fertilizer and shooting for zero fossil fuel use, the importance of an automated probe isn't even zero. It's negative.

  3. Okay, I'll admit, the unmanned stuff from NASA has produced some amazing stuff.

    1. I think the unmanned stuff has produced the most amazing results.

      Don't get me wrong, I want to see manned flights for people who accept the risks, and apparently we only barely know the risks of deep space flight considering the mannequins on the Artemis Orion mission. A good use for unmanned probes is to find out what the risks are by pure scientific research.

      This is where a functional Starship really changes everything. Think tons to Mars or the outer planets. Casey Handmer's blog went into this within the last couple of years.

  4. Requiescat in pace, Insight - ya done good!