NASA has formally retired its Mars InSight lander, the first robotic probe specially designed to study the deep interior of a distant world, four years after it arrived on the surface of the red planet, the U.S. space agency announced on Wednesday.
Mars InSight lander
NASA's Mars InSight lander, which landed on the surface of the red planet four years ago, has been officially taken out of service, Reuters reported on Wednesday. It was the first robot designed to study the deep interior of a distant world.
Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles knew the mission was over when two attempts to re-establish radio contact with the lander failed in a row. This showed that InSight's solar-powered batteries had run out of power.
NASA predicted at the end of October that the spacecraft would stop working in a few weeks because dust was building up on its solar panels and making it harder for its batteries to charge.
NASA said it is unlikely that JPL engineers will hear from InSight again, but they will keep listening just in case. The stationary probe with three legs last talked to Earth on December 15.
InSight landed on Mars in late November 2018 with instruments that could measure rumblings on the planet that had never been measured anywhere else but on Earth. Its original mission of two years was later extended to four.