I am still worried about InSight's solar panels getting covered in dust: Why do InSight's solar panels have tall vertical ridges between segments - will these trap dust?

Please help me to sleep better. What would a productive day's energy budget be for InSight (Watt-hours)? It doesn't have wheels which is good, but it doesn't have an RTG so it may need to self-heat electrically at night which is bad. It won't be constantly taking photos of new landscape rolling by or new rocks that fall out of the sky (or kicked up by wheels) with zillions of cameras which is good, but it's instruments require close to 24/7 operation to collect useful data (which is bad) and some even need to transmit directly from InSight to Earth to succeed (How will InSight's RISE antennas end up pointed in the right direction?) (which is bad).

On a non-busy day, when RISE won't be transmiting (which is most days, there are only a few seasonal windows planned I believe) and the electric drills aren't drilling, what will a typical one-sol energy budget be for InSight, and how does that compare to a good day's worth of charging from its solar panels sans poussière martienne?

GIF made from the two images at the NASA page For InSight, Dust Cleanings Will Yield New Science (Individual images PIA22876 and PIA23203)

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1 Answer 1


Partial answer:

In Mars New Home 'a Large Sandbox' InSight project manager Tom Hoffman of JPL says on sol 1 it generated 4,588 watt-hours:

Data downlinked from the lander also indicate that during its first full day on Mars, the solar-powered InSight spacecraft generated more electrical power than any previous vehicle on the surface of Mars.

"It is great to get our first 'off-world record' on our very first full day on Mars," said Hoffman. "But even better than the achievement of generating more electricity than any mission before us is what it represents for performing our upcoming engineering tasks. The 4,588 watt-hours we produced during sol 1 means we currently have more than enough juice to perform these tasks and move forward with our science mission."

There's probably much more information in the Energy management operations for the Insight solar-powered mission at Mars paper from the 2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference, but I don't want to buy it.


[...]This paper discusses how the change in launch date has changed the energy management challenges for InSight, and how the energy management approach for surface operations has been adapted to address those challenges. It also describes how energy balance and battery life are protected over the course of the InSight landed mission, in terms of a deliberate balance between autonomous on-board fault protection and ground commanding into reduced-load configurations that still make progress versus specific, prioritized mission success criteria. It describes the project's unique statistical analysis and usage of Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) archived data on solar energy collection to develop and validate an explicit pre-launch margin policy versus energy reductions due to environment variability over multiple-sol sequences. And finally, the paper explains how this archived energy data has influenced the modification of the Phoenix-heritage autonomous fault protection, to guard against quickly-arising inclement power-generation conditions, such as rapid onset of a local dust storm or water ice cloud front.

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    $\begingroup$ While a daily energy budget will list power generation, usage, and storage numbers, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Thanks for the links! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 15, 2019 at 21:50

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