We wrote in early June that the lander NASA InSight he was trying to clean up his own solar panels covered in Martian dust. The operations are having some effect but perhaps not enough to ensure full operation.
The space agency has not given up and is continuing to monitor the situation to try to understand how to solve the problem. Unfortunately it seems that the area where the lander landed is not frequently beaten by “devil dust” or winds strong enough to clean the solar panels on their own.
The latest news on NASA InSight from Mars
During an online conference of the MEPAG (acronym for Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group) was Bruce Banerdt to talk about the successes achieved by the lander but also about the problems it is facing. This obviously will allow in the future to improve future missions aware of the limits.
Banerdt stated that “The accumulation of dust on the solar panels has been considerable. We have about 80% darkening of the solar panels”. However, the presentation states that this type of problem had been considered and is in line with expectations.
The scientist added that “the lack of natural events for the cleaning of solar panels is not in line with expectations”. To complicate matters there is also the approach of the aphelion (maximum distance from the Sun) which reduces solar radiation and also leads to a decrease in temperatures.
In a graph always reported by Bruce Banerdt you see it as at the beginning of the mission of NASA InSight they could be produced up to 5000 Wh (for Sol) even if the usage was less than 2000 Wh. With the passage of time and the accumulation of dust it has reached around 700 Wh. At the same time there has been a reduction in consumption thanks to the sporadic use of some instruments, even if the seismometer is in operation regularly.
According to reports, with the approach of the aphelion the lander could go into standby completely to minimize its consumption and allow the “awakening” once the solar radiation is sufficient. The mission of NASA InSight it could end by the middle of next year (before December 2022 funded by NASA previously).