A probe aboard NASA's InSight space lander finally appears to be making slow and steady progress in its mission to burrow into the surface of Mars. NASA said that its new approach of using a scoop on the end of the space lander's robotic arm to push the 16-inch-long probe – known as the Mole – into the Red Planet's resilient surface is helping it to gain headway. Efforts to penetrate the long thin'self-hammering nail', manufactured by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), into into the Martian surface kicked off in February 2019, but had since stalled. The Mole needs soil to fall into the hole it's digging to give it the necessary friction to able to penetrate and go deeper, in its mission to measure the heat from the planet's interior. But the probe had encountered an unexpected layer of cemented soil – called'duricrust' – that wasn't falling into the hole the device had dug.
NASA's "mole" on Mars has failed. After nearly two years of attempting to dig the InSight lander's heat probe – nicknamed the mole – into the Red Planet's surface, engineers have finally given up. The InSight lander arrived on Mars in November 2018. Its main purpose is to study the planet's deep interior in order to help us understand the history of the solar system's rocky worlds. The lander has three main instruments to help it do that: a seismometer to catch vibrations travelling through the ground, a radio to precisely measure Mars's rotation and learn more about its metal core and a setup called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) to measure the heat flowing out of the planet's centre.
NASA's InSight rover has provided the American space agency with weather reports, images and other interesting findings on Mars – but has struggled to probe its surface. In nearly eight months, the land rover has only dug through 14 inches of the red planet's surface, even though it was engineered to reach at least 16 feet to study how heat escapes from the interior. This blunder has come down to InSight's'mole' heat probe's inability to keep its footing in the soil – NASA believes the device is just bouncing in place. In nearly eight months, the land rover has only dug through 14 inches of the red planet's surface, even though it was engineered to reach at least 16 feet in order to study how heat escapes from the interior InSight, NASA's $1 billion rover, made landing on Mars in November 2018 after traveling through space for seven months. And although it has been a key player in the Mars mission, it has failed to explore the planet's interior.
NASA is gearing up for a rescue operation that they hope will save a critical instrument on its Mars lander that remains trapped just centimeters below the surface. In March, after less than a year on Mars' surface, NASA's InSight Lander reported that a critical instrument -- a'mole' probe that is designed to burrow into the planet and assess heat emissions -- hit a snag. For several months, the probe, which was meant to bore 16 feet downward, has been trapped just 30 centimeters beneath the planet's surface after less than a month into its burrowing process. A newly devised plan, however, could extricate the probe once and for all. NASA's InSight probe will try to save a critical instrument that is trapped beneath Mars' surface.
NASA's Mars InSight mission has hit a snag: Its heat probe appears to have struck an obstacle just below the surface of the red planet. The instrument, which was designed to hammer itself 16 feet underground, encountered some kind of resistance over the weekend and hasn't made progress since. "The team has therefore decided to pause the hammering for about two weeks to allow the situation to be analyzed more closely and jointly come up with strategies for overcoming the obstacle," Tilman Spohn, the principal investigator for the heat probe, wrote Tuesday in the mission logbook. The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, was successfully deployed by the lander's mechanical arm on Feb. 12. Its mission is to measure heat escaping from Mars' interior, which will give scientists clues about the planet's composition and history.