The Red Planet winds might have resulted in the eventual end of the Opportunity rover, but they could possibly help in extending the life of NASA’s InSight mission. The same winds could be helpful to blow the dust away just in the similar fashion it blows dust onto the spacecraft’s solar panels. Researchers are presently studying the way the Red Planet winds are creating impacts on the InSight’s power generation.
Spacecraft like Opportunity and InSight consume the power generated from solar panels. During a wind storm, it kicks up dust which covers the panels and decreases its efficiency. Since the time of InSights touchdown, the efficiency of the solar panels has declined by 30%. But these existing layers of dust lying on the panels could be taken off by powerful winds. Recently, in February, InSight lander has experienced a wind vortex which is also called a dust devil. As vortex covered area near the spacecraft, the solar panels on-boarded the craft has shown a smash in its power output. The power output of one of its panels reduced by 0.7% and 2.7% on the other. Earlier after the significant wind blows, the craft has shown a power boost of up to 10 %.
However, the recent wind encounter will not make any practical difference in the InSight’s continuity and they do give significant data about the weather of the Red Planet. According to Ralph Lorenz of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the encounter did not make any considerable difference to the power output, but the incident is fascinating for science. He added that the event gives an initial point for studying, how these winds are driving changes on the surface of Mars. As per him, the team is still unclear on how much wind it takes to lift dust on the Red Planet.