Dusty NASA Mars Lander Snaps What Will Likely Be Its Final Selfie

I'm not tearing up. That's just Martian dust in my eyes.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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NASA expects this InSight selfie from April 24, 2022 will be the lander's last.


Mars selfies are an entire category of image. They provide mission teams back on Earth with a good look at the hardware, but they're also a way to help space fans feel connected to those distant explorers on the red planet. NASA's InSight lander has sent back what will probably be its final self-portrait, one last look at a brave machine during its end days.

On Monday, NASA JPL tweeted a GIF dancing between InSight's first selfie in December 2018 and its most recent one. It highlights just how much dust is now covering the lander. JPL described it as "what is likely to be its final selfie."

The image comes from April 24 and is a mosaic of snaps taken by a camera mounted on the lander's robotic arm. The arm is scheduled to be placed into a "retirement pose" this month. 

Due to a thick layer of dust on its solar panels, InSight is having to ration energy, and the team is prioritizing its seismometer to listen for marsquakes. With the dust issue worsening, InSight is expected to conclude its mission by the end of this year. JPL even named the photo in the release as "InSight's Final Selfie."

It's hard to say goodbye to a mission you've spent years following, but InSight has delivered on its promise to illuminate the interior of Mars. Not everything worked as planned, but its data on marsquakes and the makeup of the red planet's innards has been enlightening for researchers who are studying rocky planets like Mars and Earth. 

A dust-covered selfie is a fitting souvenir of InSight's valuable time on Mars.