NASA’s InSight Mars Lander’s Days Are Numbered

While InSight’s pair of solar panels, each one shaped like a decagonal (10-sided) pie, efficiently provide solar power to the lander, dust has always been its Achilles’ heel. While dust storms come by frequently—though not as intensely as portrayed in The Martian—they emerge more often during the summer, says Raymond Arvidson, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the Mars Science Laboratory and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter teams. Over time, dust continually collected atop the flat, horizontal solar arrays, which started off near-black, but are now almost completely a dusty auburn. This has limited the lander’s

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