这可能是美国宇航局InSight着陆器的最后一张自拍照

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美国宇航局(NASA)的火星InSight着陆器任务正在进行倒计时,因为灰尘继续覆盖其太阳能电池板。本周,InSight背后的团队利用这个机会拍摄了最后一张InSight自拍照。由此产生的图像与着陆器在整个任务期间拍摄的第一张甚至第二张自拍形成了鲜明的对比。

last-insight-selfie.webp

红色星球正在稳步迈向尘土飞扬的冬天,美国宇航局的InSight着陆器正准备说再见。这个着陆器自2018年以来一直在测量火星上的地震活动,其正在慢慢耗尽动力。

对于火星探索来说,这是一个悲伤的时刻,特别是考虑到InSight在最近几个月测量了一些迄今为止最强的火星地震。尽管如此,告别该火星着陆器只是探索其他星球的一部分。依靠太阳能发电,太阳能电池板上总是会有灰尘堆积的问题。

但是,目前还不清楚美国宇航局是否预计它会像现在这样快速积累。在该着陆器完全断电之前,NASA计划把它的机械臂放到一个休息的“退休”位置。但该团队还决定拍摄最后一张InSight自拍照,向这个标志性的探索者说再见。现在,该航天局已经与公众分享了这张图片。

这可能是美国宇航局InSight着陆器的最后一张自拍照

我们已经知道InSight的结束是早晚的事。尽管如此,美国宇航局没有真正的计划来挽救InSight。相反,该机构希望一阵旋风或真正强大的阵风能够将一些灰尘从太阳能电池板上赶走。现在这样的事情似乎不太可能,电池完全耗尽只是一个时间问题。

将InSight的最后一张自拍照与着陆器的其他图片相比较,显示出鲜明的对比。即使早在2018年登陆时,该着陆器就已经开始积累灰尘了。这是因为火星是一个天然的多尘的地方。而且,每过一个太阳日,这些面板上就会积累更多的灰尘。

不过,如果不出意外的话,这最后一张InSight自拍照可以为未来的项目提供一个良好的提醒。目前的火星探索者,如“毅力号”探测器,依靠的是核电而不是太阳能。虽然太阳能更自给自足一些,但红色星球的多尘性质限制了它真正的有效性。因此,未来依靠核电可能是制造另一个像InSight一样可以持续的着陆器的关键。

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The Red Planet is steadily heading for a dusty winter, and NASA's InSight lander is getting ready to say goodbye. The lander, which has been measuring seismic activity on Mars since 2018, is slowly running out of power.

This is a sad time for Mars exploration, especially given that InSight has measured some of the strongest Martian earthquakes to date in recent months. Still, saying goodbye to the Mars lander is only part of exploring other planets. Depending on solar power, there is always a problem of dust accumulation on solar panels.

However, it is not clear whether NASA expects it to accumulate as quickly as it does now. Before the lander is completely powered off, NASA plans to put its robotic arm in a resting "retirement" position. But the team also decided to take the last InSight selfie to say goodbye to the iconic explorer. Now, the space agency has shared this picture with the public.

We already know that it is only a matter of time before InSight ends. Still, NASA has no real plan to save InSight. Instead, the agency hopes that a whirlwind or really strong gust will drive some dust off the solar panels. Now such a thing seems unlikely, it is only a matter of time before the battery is completely exhausted.

Comparing the last selfie of InSight with other images of the lander shows a sharp contrast. Even when it landed in 2018, the lander began to accumulate dust. This is because Mars is a naturally dusty place. Moreover, with each solar day, more dust accumulates on these panels.

However, if nothing happens, this last InSight selfie can provide a good reminder for future projects. Current Mars explorers, such as the perseverance rover, rely on nuclear power rather than solar energy. Although solar energy is more self-sufficient, the dusty nature of the red planet limits its true effectiveness. Therefore, relying on nuclear power in the future may be the key to building another lander as sustainable as InSight.

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