NASA spacecraft spots dead robot on Mars surface

  • NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter blasted off to the Red Planet in 2005
  • It regularly sends back images taken of Mars’s surface
  • A new image has captured a ‘dead’ robot lying on Mars

Published on May 23, 2024 at 12:57 PM (UTC+4)
by Claire Reid

Last updated on Jun 07, 2024 at 6:40 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

NASA spotted a ‘dead’ robot on the surface of Mars in new images taken by its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (or MRO) blasted off into space back in 2005, tasked with searching for evidence that water will persist on Mars’s surface for long periods of time.

Previous NASA missions to Mars have shown that water has flowed across the surface of the Red Planet in the past, but scientists are still unsure if that water stayed around long enough to support life. 

READ MORE! The first rover to land on Mars captured a revealing picture of its surface

Its high-resolution cameras have been able to capture Mars’s ‘ever-changing’ environment, with NASA saying it has observed ‘shifting sand dunes, seasonal ice, and the appearance of dust storms, avalanches, new gullies, and craters’.

MRO has been active at Mars for more than 18 years – it is the third longest-lived spacecraft to orbit Mars.

As part of its work, MRO routinely takes images of Mars and sends them back to Earth, and in a recent shot, a dead robot could be seen lying on the surface. 

However, don’t get too worried about the prospect of super-intelligent, robot-creating life on Mars just yet, because the robot is actually one of NASA’s own. 

The InSight robot has been out of action – or ‘retired’ – since 2022, but it is more than just space junk and is still providing valuable information to NASA about Mars. 

Sharing the image on X – formerly known as Twitter – the US Space Agency wrote: “Can you spot @NASAInSight?

A robot on the surface of Mars

“The retired lander was recently spotted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

“By studying InSight’s landing site over time, scientists can see how quickly dust accumulates, which helps estimate the age of other surface disturbances.” Clever. 

InSight spent four years investigating geological activity on Mars. As well as analyzing the planet’s core, it also provided NASA with daily weather reports. 

Its mission officially drew to a close in December 2022, with NASA saying the lander had given Mars ‘its first thorough check-up since it formed 4.5 billion years ago’. Impressive. 

InSight isn’t the only explorer that remains ‘retired’ on Mars – the Opportunity Rover, Phoenix lander and Ingenuity helicopter are also present, as are some discarded landing gear and parachutes.

Where’s Wall-E when you need him?

# Tags - Mars, NASA, Space


Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist who hails from the UK but is now living in New Zealand. She began her career after graduating with a degree in Journalism from Liverpool John Moore’s University and has more than a decade of experience, writing for both local newspapers and national news sites. Across her career she's covered a wide variety of topics, including celebrity, cryptocurrency, politics, true crime and just about everything in between.