Speed Reads

So Long, Buddy

Mars' InSight lander officially goes dark after 4 years

As one generation of space travel begins with the Artemis missions, another concludes, as NASA announced Wednesday that Mars' InSight lander mission had officially come to an end. 

In a statement, NASA confirmed that the lander had died after four years on the Martian surface, and said mission controllers "were unable to contact the lander after two consecutive attempts, leading them to conclude the spacecraft's solar-powered batteries have run out of energy." 

NASA said that while it will continue to listen for potential signals from the lander, further communication was unlikely. 

The loss of the InSight lander had been anticipated for a while by NASA officials, due to a buildup of Martian dust on the craft that had blocked its solar panels. 

"We've been expecting this to come to an end for some time," Bruce Banerdt, mission investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The New York Times. "I think that it's been a great run."

The InSight lander's primary mission was to study the effects of seismology and earthquakes on Mars. It first landed on the planet on Nov. 26, 2018, and spent more than 1,500 days collecting data on the surface. 

Although the mission may be at its end, Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, lauded InSight's accomplishments. 

"While saying goodbye to a spacecraft is always sad, the fascinating science InSight conducted is cause for celebration," Zurbuchen told CNN. "The seismic data alone from this Discovery Program mission offers tremendous insights not just into Mars but other rocky bodies, including Earth."