Skip to main content

NASA shares InSight Mars lander’s final selfie

NASA has shared the final selfie snapped by its InSight Mars lander. The machine is gradually losing power as an increasing amount of Martian dust covers its two 7-feet-wide solar arrays. It’s expected to go quiet toward the end of this year.

The selfie (below) was captured in April and released this week and shows the lander completely covered in dust.

The InSight Mars lander's final selfie.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which has been overseeing InSight’s mission since it began in 2018, also tweeted a GIF (below) comprising a before/after sequence that clearly shows the severity of the situation.

A dusty self-portrait.@NASAInSight took what is likely to be its final selfie on April 24. In the GIF, you can see the spacecraft’s first selfie in December 2018 and its last one where it’s covered in Martian dust.

— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) May 24, 2022

“The arm needs to move several times in order to capture a full selfie,” JPL said in a message on its website, adding that as its dusty solar panels are producing less power, the team will “soon put the lander’s robotic arm in its resting position — called the “retirement pose” — for the last time in May of 2022.”

InSight brought the first seismometer to Mars, and during the mission, it detected more than 1,300 marsquakes, including a recent one measured as the largest quake ever detected on another planet. Scientists have been using the gathered data to learn more about the interior of the red planet. InSight also includes a high-tech weather station, enabling scientists to make a very detailed record of the weather on Mars during its four seasons. You can learn about some of the mission’s discoveries in the video below. It also addresses the dust issue.

NASA’s InSight Lander Accomplishes Science Goals on Mars as Power Levels Diminish

Despite a few hiccups along the way — for example, InSight’s heat probe failed to reach the targeted depth — and a major dust-related problem at the end, the mission has been deemed a success, and actually fulfilled its main mission goals within the first two years of arriving on the distant planet.

Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said recently that InSight had “transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions,” adding: “We can apply what we’ve learned about Mars’ inner structure to Earth, the moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems.”

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
NASA says goodbye to Mars helicopter Ingenuity after an incredible 72 flights
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its rotor blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

It's a sad day for space fans, as the plucky little helicopter Ingenuity has finally come to the end of its mission on Mars. The helicopter will not be making anymore flights due to damage to one of its rotors that occurred during a recent landing, NASA said in an announcement on Thursday, January 25.

The mission was originally planned to make just five flights and to last 30 days, but has been successful beyond what anyone had imagined. The helicopter has made a total of 72 flights over the course of its three-year mission, which began when it was set down on the surface of Mars by the Perseverance rover. The rover arrived on Mars with the helicopter tucked up underneath its belly in February 2021, and Ingenuity sat on the surface for the first time in April 2021. It then made history by becoming the first rotorcraft to fly on another planet with its maiden flight.

Read more
NASA regains communications with Mars helicopter Ingenuity
The Ingenuity helicopter is pictured on the surface of Mars.

Just a few days after losing contact with the Mars helicopter Ingenuity, NASA announced that it has regained communications with the plucky little helicopter. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which designed and operated the helicopter, announced that it is back in touch following an unexpected communications dropout.

The Ingenuity helicopter is pictured on the surface of Mars. NASA

Read more
NASA has lost communication with the Ingenuity Mars helicopter
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen here in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard the Perseverance rover. This image was taken on April 5, the 45th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has had a remarkable lifespan and has proven to be a greater success than anyone imagined. Originally designed to perform just five flights over the surface of Mars, the helicopter has now performed more than 70. However, NASA has now announced that it has lost contact with the helicopter, though it's unclear how serious this problem is.

The helicopter was performing its 72nd flight, which was an adjustment and correction to a previous flight that was cut short. Flight 71 was intended to be a journey of 1,175 feet (358 meters), but when the helicopter made this flight earlier in the month, it traveled just a third of that. The problem was related to its downward-facing camera, which uses surface indications for autonomous navigation. The helicopter was traveling over a particularly featureless expanse of the surface, and the lack of landmarks appeared to cause a problem with its navigation, forcing the flight to end early.

Read more