The Energizer bunny of Mars, the InSight lander, continues to hold on. The engineering team tonight issued another status report, as shown in the graph to the right. For the past week the lander continued to produce 420 watt-hours per day, even though the tau level of dust in the atmosphere increased from 0.8 to 0.85.
The tau level of dust outside of the winter dust season is normally between 0.6 and 0.7. Even though Mars is moving out of winter, that level has increased slightly above InSight. And yet, even with a higher dust content and thus less sunlight, the lander’s dust-covered solar panels are generating power, at a very slightly higher level.
The InSight team had expected the lander to die in early September, at the latest. Instead, it keeps running, thus allowing it to detect on September 5th an impact created by a cluster of three asteroids, the first time scientists have ever pinpointed exactly when such a new impact occurred on Mars.
For the lander to survive for even longer, all it needs is one gust of wind across the solar panels to clean them off. The science team had expected this to happen periodically, based on past experience with the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Unfortunately for InSight, it has not yet happened even once since it arrived on Mars in 2018. Nonetheless, it only has to happen once to save the lander.
Stay tuned. All is not yet lost.
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.
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.