NASA’s InSight rover goes into “hibernation mode”: there is so much dust that its solar panels barely produce energy
NASA’s rovers on Mars are powered by solar energy produced by solar panels that cover them. This is ideal because present and “infinite” energy is harnessed. in situ. The problem comes when the solar panels do not capture enough light, which is what is happening to InSight now due to the dust of the arid Red Planet.
According NASA announced, el rover InSight will go into hibernation mode during Martian winter. This seeks to save and conserve the rover’s energy to cope with winter. The rover’s solar panels are currently covered in dust and there is not enough wind to “clean” them. On the other hand, Mars is at one of its furthest points from the Sun in its annual orbit, so the light received is also less.
A cold and dusty winter ahead
The rover currently barely has access to sunlight. As dust has coated the panels and Mars has moved away from the Sun, the amount of energy produced is minimal. According to NASA, the rover currently only produces 27% of what it could produce if conditions were optimal.
To NASA’s InSight rover has been given a mission extension for another two years, which means it will continue to collect data and explore Mars throughout 2022. But for now, it is on hiatus. The rover requires a minimum amount of energy to keep the heaters running, which are what allow it to cope with the extreme temperatures of the planet. NASA prefers to prioritize this rather than risk losing the entire rover.
Once Mars begins to get closer to the Sun again, the amount of sunlight the rover will receive will increase. As a result of that hopefully it can capture more energy again and turn all your instruments back on to explore and analyze the Martian surface.
Meanwhile, NASA’s latest rover on Mars, Perseverance, keep exploring the planet. In addition to the scientific instrumentation it has, it is accompanied by the Ingenuity helicopter that take spectacular aerial views of the planet. China for its part is also snooping the surface of Mars.
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