Going out with a bang, NASA's InSight Mars lander, slowly dying as light-blocking dust builds up on its solar arrays, detected the most powerful marsquake yet recorded May 4, a magnitude 5 temblor 10 times stronger than the previous record holder. Now operating with one-tenth the power its arrays generated when it landed on the red planet in 2018, InSight will be forced to end continuous operation of its ultra-sensitive seismometer sometime this summer, officials said Tuesday, a prelude to the end of science operations later this year. "We're still doing great science at Mars," said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Even as we're starting to get close to the end of our mission, Mars is still giving us some really amazing things to see and to add to our data record." Two images of NASA's InSight Mars landing show before and after views of the spacecraft's solar arrays. On the left, the circular arrays are seen just after landing, before any martian dust had a chance to collect on them. In the three-and-a-half years since landing, the arrays have been covered with dust, reducing power output by 90 percent. NASA The recently detected magnitude 5 marsquake was the strongest of more than 1,300 tremors the spacecraft has detected since landing. "Basically, we've been able to map out the inside of Mars for the very first time," Banerdt said. "We're able to get the size of the core, we're able to deduce something about its density and therefore the composition of the core. We've detected the bottom of the crust, and we're able to determine the thickness of the crust." In addition, data from InSight — a convoluted acronym that stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — has allowed researchers to probe the martian mantle and learn more about its temperature and its mineralogical structure. "InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. "We can apply what we've learned about Mars' inner structure to Earth, the moon, Venus and even rocky planets in other solar systems." InSight was launched May 5, 2018, and plunged to a . . . read the full article here.