Engineers have been able to regain contact with the Mars lander InSight after a Martian dust storm that put it in safe mode and cut off all communications for three days.
The mission’s team reestablished contact with InSight Jan. 10, finding that its power was holding steady and, while low, was unlikely to be draining the lander’s batteries. Drained batteries are believed to have caused the end of NASA’s Opportunity rover during an epic series of dust storms that blanketed the Red Planet in 2018.
The lander remains however in safe mode. The engineers hope they can resume limited science operations in about a week. Even before this even the limitations on InSight’s power generation due to dust on its solar panels had forced the science team to only gather data from the seismometer, and even then had to suspend all data gathering periodically.
Though the lander has survived this dust storm, it is presently unclear how much dust remains on its panels and thus how much power it can generate. If it only can generate enough power to keep the lander from freezing, but not do any science, it might be time to shut it down entirely.
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