NASA Engineers Checking InSight’s Weather Sensors

An electronics issue is suspected to be preventing the sensors from sharing their data about Mars weather with the spacecraft.

Weather sensors aboard NASA’s InSight Mars lander stopped providing
data on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, a result of an issue affecting the sensor
suite’s electronics. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern
California are working to understand the cause of the issue.

Called the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Suite (APSS), the
sensors collect data on wind speed and direction, air temperature and pressure,
and magnetic fields. Throughout each Martian day, or sol, InSight’s main
computer retrieves data stored in APSS’ control computer for later transmission
to orbiting spacecraft, which relay the data to Earth.

APSS is in safe mode and unlikely to be reset before the
end of the month while mission team members work toward a diagnosis. JPL
engineers are optimistic that resetting the control computer may address the
issue but need to investigate the situation further before returning the sensors
to normal.

More About InSight

JPL manages InSight for NASA’s
Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program,
managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its
cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners,
including France’s Centre National d’√Čtudes Spatiales (CNES) and the German
Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the
Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS)
instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique
du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max
Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London
and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat
Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3)
instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK)
of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de
Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

News Media Contact

Andrew Good

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


Alana Johnson / Grey Hautaluoma

NASA Headquarters, Washington

202-672-4780 / 202-358-0668 /


Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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