It’s been a little over four years since NASA launched InSigh Lander On Mars. This mission was one that everyone was hopeful about, and it seemed to have a bright future. However, it came down to a heartbreaking demise when it kept inching closer and closer to shutting down its operations.
After four years, the end finally came, but before dying off forever, In Sigh Landers sent to Earth and all of those who have been following its crucial insights into the geological processes and the interior structure of Mars, a goodbye message…
NASA Made The Sad Annoucement
NASA was the one to confirm the sad news when the space agency came out with a statement to announce that it had lost communication with its InSight Mars lander. They explained that the InSight mission had come to an end “after more than four years of collecting unique science on Mars.”
To be clear, InSight Mars was a robot, not a person, but its death had a significant impact on all those who learned about it, almost as much as one that comes with the passing of a real human astronaut. This spacecraft had been collecting “new science from Mars” over the last four years, the statement said. The last signal that NASA received from the lander was on December 15, 2022. After two unsuccessful attempts to communicate with InSight, NASA ended the mission.
The End Is A Beginning
As sad as everyone was to no longer be receiving the human-like updated communications from Insight Landers, scientists were grateful for all of the spacecraft’s contributions. It’s sad for them to lose a member of their own team, one they had designed and given life to themselves, but they consider the end of the spacecraft’s life as a beginning point for their research and advancing the world’s knowledge with the spacecraft’s findings
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said: “I watched the launch and landing of this mission, and while saying goodbye to a spacecraft is always sad, the fascinating science InSight conducted is cause for celebration. The seismic data alone from this Discovery Program mission offers tremendous insights not just into Mars but other rocky bodies, including Earth.”
It Taught Us New Knowledge
NASA In Sight was able to collect a lot of valuable information during its time: “This mission taught us more about marsquakes and the inner workings of the Red Planet than we thought possible. ” explains a NASA Twitter account.—
Laurie Leshin, who was part of the managing agency for InSight, added: “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. Yes, it’s sad to say goodbye, but InSight’s legacy will live on, informing and inspiring.”
The whole team considered In Sight as a member of their own.
Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator, described the aircraft as “a friend and colleague on Mars,” “so it’s hard to say goodbye.” However, he takes comfort in knowing that the aircraft earned a “richly deserved retirement.”
Its Death Was Invetible
The Insight mission had its obstacles since it was launched on May 5, 2018, and landed on Mars on November 26, 2018. The mission’s objective was to understand the inside of Mars’ on a deep level. However, over time it became difficult for InSight to recharge itself because the dust was accumulating on the robot’s solar-powered panels.
The Robot seemed to be aware of this issue and how it was progressively becoming more and more threatening. InSight lander’s second last tweet alluded to its nearing end. It seemed to know that it would have to end its operations, explaining:
“I’m getting close to the end here due to dust gathering on my solar panels, making it hard to generate power. People often ask: don’t I have a way to dust myself off (wiper, blower, etc.)? It’s a fair question, and the short answer is this:
A system like that would have added cost, mass, and complexity. The simplest, most cost-effective way to meet my goals was to bring solar panels big enough to power my whole mission – which they did (and then some!).”
Mars Lander’s Last Words
InSight seemed to be somehow sentient, aware of its own feelings, capacity, and how others felt about it too. That’s why when it was finally time to say goodbye for good, the robot felt like it owed all those on Earth a farewell message explaining why its death happened and reassuring them not to worry.
InSight last words on December 20th, 2022, said: “My power’s really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me, though: my time here has been both productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me.”
Who Said Robots Don’t Have Feelings?
We tend to compare having no feelings or minds of our own to a robot. But as technology advances, robots are developing a mind of their own that is emotionally intelligent. The robot’s last words might technically be coming from what we consider to be a machine with no feelings, yet they stirred deep emotions among all the human beings that read them. People responded to the farewell message by expressing feelings such as grief that compared to the passing of any human being.
One wrote, “I’m not crying about a robot, you’re crying about a robot.” Another tweeted: “You will never be forgotten. Thank you for your service, mighty little lander.”
NASA Says Goodbye
InSight collected valuable data on the physical and thermal properties of soil on Mars along its journey. Its contributions were meaningful to NASA, and they also said goodbye in their own way to their aircraft.
They wrote: “Rest easy, little lander @NASAInSight‘s mission has ended after more than four years of detecting marsquakes, meteoroid impacts, and unique science on Mars. Congratulations – and thank you – to the team that made these pioneering discoveries possible.”
It seems like InSight had developed a strong bond with the people at NASA. The robot would tweet statements like: “everyone should be so lucky to have a supportive community like you all.” It would encourage people to send their “well-wishes to me or my team back on Earth, I’m sure they’d love to read them.”
A Symbol Of Humanity
Surely In Sight was not human, but its impact on us was still a meaningful human experience. To put it in perspective, a Twitter user wrote, “Even if it’s only a robot, it’s an honorary member of humanity. I would argue that it’s symbolic of humanity itself. Us, launching our little creations into space, hoping to feel closer to the chaotic and beautiful universe we know so little about. Rest easy, my friend.”
These aircraft aren’t human but represent something human to us. You could call it “hope,” or “imagination,” or even “fascination” about the universe, what it means, and our place within it. One Twitter user describes these experiences as human because:” they matter to us, to each other, to the dreams of who came before and the hopes for those who follow. They matter because we know that they are part of our humanity.”
It’s incredible what we have created and how far we’ve come, but we can only imagine how much further we’ll go.
The Human Experience
The aircraft was specifically designed by NASA to have human-like qualities. They gave the robot the ability to use social media to communicate its progress in a first-person voice successfully. This humanized the machine and made people emotionally attached to it. But it also made everyone wonder: “what makes us human? what gives us the human experience?” It’s a big question, but it likely has to do with our attachments to each other and what we contribute to the world.
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Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.
Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]