Can we save Mars robots from death by dust?


NASA’s Mars InSight lander died a slow death by dust last week. For months and months, the robot, built to study the tectonic activity on the Red Planet, has been running on less and less power as its 25-square-foott (4.2 square meters) solar power array gradually disappeared under a thick blanket of dust. On Wednesday (Dec. 21), NASA announced it hadn’t heard from the lander for days, officially pronouncing the mission dead. 

InSight, which landed in the flat, seemingly uninteresting Elysium Planitia basin, south of Mars‘ equator in November 2018, exceeded its expected mission duration by two years. Still, many asked whether anything could have been done to save the otherwise perfectly healthy robot, which had been delivering groundbreaking science about the internal life of Mars