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Problem with InSight’s weather station

Engineers are troubleshooting a problem with the weather sensors on the InSight lander on Mars that has prevented them from collecting data since August 16th.

[The weather system] is in safe mode and unlikely to be reset before the end of the month while mission team members work toward a diagnosis. JPL engineers are optimistic that resetting the control computer may address the issue but need to investigate the situation further before returning the sensors to normal.

Overall InSight has turned out to be of mixed success. The seismometer has worked as planned, but the mole designed to drill the heat thermometer sixteen feet into the ground has so far failed to work, and now the weather station has shut down, though hopefully only temporarily.

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.


  • LocalFluff

    Insight’s results are meager. It hasn’t given much insight into Mars. While the seismometer works just fine, there isn’t much seismic activity above the noise level to measure. It isn’t a failure, a null result is also an interesting result. But there’s not much to study of it.

    The failure of the mole was caused by the ignorance of the Martian soil. I hope that Perseverance’s core drill is more robust. Low gravity, no water or organics, no plate tectonics and billions of years of dust storms have made something else than what is on Earth. And over elaborate German engineering on top of that, well perhaps we should’ve seen this coming.

    And the weather station. They put a weather station on every spacecraft now, because they are low weight and simple. Not too much new is learned from them. UAE’s orbiter will figure out Mars’ global weather patterns, that’ll be real progress. It is for example poorly understood how global dust storms can occur episodically.

    What I like with Insight is its arm, that can bang and push the mole. If the horribly named Osiris-REX had had one like that, it would’ve picked up rocks and be on its way home already.

  • Richard M

    Worth noting that InSight’s mission was planned to last for two (Earth) years – which it’s just about reached. Assuming that JPL can get the APSS back on track next month (which seems likely), they have gotten good function from three of the four major instrument suites for those two years.

    The problem, of course, is the one that hasn’t quite worked out (HP3) was arguably the most important one. That said, it was also the highest risk one, too.

    InSight isn’t going to go down as among the most productive missions sent to Mars, but then, it was also one of the lowest cost ones, too, and I think that has to be part of the calculation. Hopefully, we’ve learned something important even from its failures.

  • Steve Page: My only comment is that we have sadly seen far too people like this individual, willing to risk their jobs to defy their corporate masters. Hopefully his stance will open the floodgates.

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