After four years of service, NASA's InSight lander is set to end.

It was confirmed at a special meeting on Tuesday, May 17 that the lander would likely cease science operations by the end of the summer because of the amount of dust on the solar panels.

A recent marsquake on another planet was the largest one ever detected, and was located in a region prone to earthquakes on the red planet. The mission has been a great success, with the lander achieving its primary goals within its first two years of deployment.

The director of NASA's Planetary Science Division said that InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions.

Dust problem

Dust on its solar panels has blocked out sunlight, which has caused InSight to lose power. When the panels arrived on Mars, they produced 5,000 watt-hours per day, but today they are producing 500 watt-hours per day. According to NASA, the energy levels would power an electric oven for 100 minutes and 10 minutes.

The team is going to place the lander's robotic arm in its resting position later this month because of the worsening situation.

The arm played a key role in prolonging the mission as the team deployed it to clear dust off the panels earlier in the mission. The idea came about when the team realized that dust was causing InSight to lose power and that they needed to scoop up martian soil and dump it on the panels. Some of the dust was taken away by the wind. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it worked. For a while.

The only way that InSight can be saved now is for stronger winds to clear the dust off the solar panels.

Bruce Banerdt, a mission member, said that they have been hoping for a dust-cleaning event to happen.

If a quarter of the panels were cleared of dust, the lander would gain about 1,000 watt-hours per day, enough to enable further science work.

The seismometer is the best place to detect marsquakes at night because of the low winds.

The seismometer is expected to stop working in the next few months, leaving InSight with enough power to take occasional photos and communicate with Earth before it goes quiet in December.

NASA has three science missions on the surface of Mars, the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, and the Ingenuity helicopter.

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