Huge Mars Dust Storm Sends NASA's InSight Lander Into Safe Mode - SciTechDaily
Jan 12, 2022 1 min, 37 secs

This illustration shows NASA’s Mars InSight lander on the Martian surface.

NASA’s InSight lander is stable and sending health data from Mars to Earth after going into safe mode Friday, January 7, following a large, regional dust storm that reduced the sunlight reaching its solar panels.

Drained batteries are believed to have caused the end of NASA’s Opportunity rover during an epic series of dust storms that blanketed the Red Planet in 2018.

Even before this recent dust storm, dust had been accumulating on InSight’s solar panels, reducing the lander’s power supply.

This selfie of NASA’s InSight lander is a mosaic made up of 14 images taken on March 15 and April 11, 2019 – the 106th and 133rd Martian days, or sols, of the mission – by InSight’s Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its robotic arm.

Dust storms can affect solar panels in two ways: Dust reduces sunlight filtering through the atmosphere, and it can also accumulate on the panels.

Whether this storm will leave an additional layer of dust on the solar panels remains to be determined.

The current dust storm was first detected by the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which creates daily color maps of the entire planet.

The whirlwinds and gusts of dust storms have helped to clear solar panels over time, as with the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rover missions.

JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission.

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