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My February birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black it now over. I sincerely and with deep gratitude thank all those who donated. Without your support I could not keep doing this, not so much because of the need for income to pay the bills, but because it tells me that there are people out there who want me to do this work. For those who did not contribute during the campaign, please consider adding your vote of support to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


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InSight fails to respond during scheduled communications session

InSight's daily power levels as of December 12, 2022

Since December 15, 2022 engineers have been unable to contact the Mars InSight lander, which likely means its power levels have finally fallen so low that the spacecraft is no longer functioning.

On Dec. 18, 2022, NASA’s InSight did not respond to communications from Earth. The lander’s power has been declining for months, as expected, and it’s assumed InSight may have reached its end of operations. It’s unknown what prompted the change in its energy; the last time the mission contacted the spacecraft was on Dec. 15, 2022.

The graph to the right shows the decline in InSight’s power levels since May. The atmosphere has been clearing following the dust storm in October, indicated by the drop in the tau level. Normal tau levels outside of dust storm season are around 0.6-0.7. It is therefore likely that as this dust cleared, it also settled on InSight’s solar panels, and reduced their ability to generate power to the point the spacecraft ceased functioning.

This is very much the same thing that put the rover Opportunity out of business in 2019.

According to this update, engineers are going to continue to try to contact the lander, but it is likely that this effort will end in about a week, should no contact be successful.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Ryan Lawson

    Since this seems to be such a frequently reoccurring problem, maybe they need to devise a simple windshield wiper system for their solar panels…

  • Edward

    Ryan Lawson,
    NASA may not consider it the problem that you do. These missions have limited expected lifespans, but they do seem to routinely exceed these mission timelines. Generally, the landers and rovers are not built to last much longer and the extra time is considered a bonus. To put a solar cell cleaner on the craft would cost weight that the scientists want to use for instruments and experiments. When budgeting the mission, they don’t really budget for longer missions and must request mission extensions in order to receive additional budget for additional data collection (ground controllers and Deep Space Network time to collect the data, and scientist salaries to write the additional papers explaining the data). For these reasons, it is not really considered cost effective to put solar cell cleaners on these craft at the design phase of the mission. Longer missions, such as Curiosity or Perseverance, tend to be designed with other power sources so that reliability and longevity are assured.

    Perhaps one of these years someone will design a solar array cleaner that is lightweight and effective so that these longer missions can use solar arrays rather than the other power sources. It does seem to be a shame that we are losing our only seismometer on Mars.

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