NASA on Wednesday confirmed in a statement that it had lost communication with the Mars lander InSight, bringing the robot’s four-year scientific mission to an end — and people are feeling pretty emotional about it.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, was launched on May 5, 2018, and landed on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018. Its mission was to study the planet’s deep interior via a “highly sensitive seismometer,” according to NASA. In recent months, the accumulation of dust on the solar-powered robot’s panels made it increasingly difficult for InSight to recharge itself. NASA scientists received their last transmission from InSight on Sunday; its failure to respond to two consecutive attempts at contact caused leaders to officially end the mission on Wednesday.
On Monday, InSight’s official Twitter account posted a message warning its followers that the end was near.
As it turned out, people had feelings about the space robot’s demise:
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California was in charge of the mission, and its scientists also expressed their sorrow at InSight’s end while praising the scientific discoveries the robot was able to make.
“InSight has more than lived up to its name. As a scientist who’s spent a career studying Mars, it’s been a thrill to see what the lander has achieved, thanks to an entire team of people across the globe who helped make this mission a success,” Laurie Leshin, director of the JPL, said in a statement. “Yes, it’s sad to say goodbye, but InSight’s legacy will live on, informing and inspiring.”
The InSight mission’s principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt, echoed her sentiments. “We’ve thought of InSight as our friend and colleague on Mars for the past four years, so it’s hard to say goodbye,” he said in that same statement. “But it has earned its richly deserved retirement.”