back to article NASA retires Mars InSight mission after it enters ‘dead bus’ condition

As expected, NASA’s Mars InSight lander has run out of energy, leaving the space agency no alternative but to end the mission. “Mission controllers at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California were unable to contact the lander after two consecutive attempts, leading them to conclude the spacecraft’s …

  1. KittenHuffer Silver badge


    Total Inability To Shift Useless Particles!

  2. fedoraman

    Dead bus

    Dead bus, as in "dead power bus"?

    1. Jon 37

      Re: Dead bus

      The "spacecraft bus" is the basic spacecraft that you add your sensors to.

      It includes the power system, communications to control the spacecraft, and some sort of computer to coordinate what the spacecraft is doing. It also includes the mechanical frame of the satellite.

      For normal satellites (not Mars Landers!), the bus can often be bought as a standard "off the shelf" part. The bus design will have flown on other satellites so is known to work. This lets the satellite designer concentrate on the part that makes their satellite unique.

  3. Dwarf

    It was the arm wot did it

    If it used its arm to push the probe into the ground and its harder there than they expected, I wonder if its simply lying on its side now having toppled over ?

    Is that the real reason for no power - since its pointing the wrong way. - i.e. sideways ?

    1. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

      Re: It was the arm wot did it

      That was all some time ago

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Would be the cost of designing and onboarding a system to wipe out dust really surpass the one of losing 'early' an expensive probe whose landing on another planet was so risky?

    Also, even if pressure is low, maybe designing a Martian wind turbine to provide some Watts could be interesting.

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

    1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

      >>Would be the cost of designing and onboarding a system to wipe out dust

      Mars dust isn't like your Earth dust. it is electrostaticly charged & conductive. Simply flapping at it with some sort of duster would not do much, if anything, and could make the problem worse... it is also very sharp, unlike much earth dust (some earth dust is very sharp indeed) so wiping the panel might well just scratch it causing yet more issues. Shaking it off seems to be the best NASA can do.

      Solving the Mars Dust Problem is non-trivial - the system has to be completely reliable, weigh less and cost less than oversizing the solar panels to make up for the dust coverage.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        I wonder if the tearoff film technology used by racecars would help?

        1. NoneSuch Silver badge

          They need to land a set of traffic lights. Every time the rover stopped there, some homeless guy with a squeegee will appear.

      2. wiggers

        Could they not apply a coating to neutralise the electrostatic charge, or an active system to reverse the charge? And if the tiny natural gusts can remove the dust, surely it shouldn't that hard to devise a system?

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Solving the Mars Dust Problem is non-trivial

        There Is no problem, only solutions to find ^^

        There are enough brilliant engineers out there to find a solution, aren't they?

        In the meantime, InSight is not the first one to be declared dead because of dusty solar panels. I'm sure some people are working already on this.

        == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

        1. DJO Silver badge

          The additional mass of a dust removal system would mean they'd have to sacrifice some instruments to keep the system down to the specified maximum launch mass. For cost/benefit getting as many instruments as possible to Mars is more important then extending the mission far beyond the planned mission duration.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A far simpler solution would be to use an updated mechanism (that initially "deployed" the solar panels), to have a "reverse" procedure, so that the solar panels can be raised into a vertical position (as they were when the lander first arrived on Mars) and the dust should simply fall off (or be blown off with a little bit of wind).

      And in a similar way, any vibration from such a reversing manoeuvre could help loosen any collected dust.

      (And yes, there is an inherent danger that a bigger gust of Martian wind could blow the thing over...but a pair of simple outriggers (geared up with a simple rack and pinion with the "reversing" motors) could help prevent this).

      1. DJO Silver badge

        It's really a waste of time and effort to try to solve the "dust problem" because it's not a problem at all.

        The rovers are designed to achieve their primary mission objectives in the first few months, a year tops, then the secondary objectives can be done if all is well so a maximum of 2 years to do the science the rover was designed for and the existing system can provide power (at a diminishing rate) for up to 4 years so there's no point in expending much effort to prolong a mission after it has met the targets, it's nice for some additional science but not critical.

  5. steamnut

    Did it sing?

    I wonder if it sang a version of Daisy Daisy... as per 2001? It would have been quite a farewell.

    I think the next version ought to have F1 style moving film protectors on the panels. Even if there was just enough for three passes it's life would have been significantly extended.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Did it sing?

      N o o I caaan't doo thaaat.... Daisy

  6. spireite Silver badge

    Suddenly awake....

    It'll send the signals all at once

  7. ravenviz Silver badge

    It is a dead bus

    It has ceased to beam

  8. Conundrum1885

    Mark Watney

    Is going to dig it up one day, dust off its panels and the rover will probably still work.

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