NASA InSight’s Mole Started to Drill the Martian Surface Once Again

NASA InSight Mole Started to Drill the Martian Surface Once Again

Science

NASA’s stationary InSight lander on mars is moving ahead in its mission to explore the red planet. It seems like the probe is slowly advancing to gain an in-depth perspective on Mars. The American space agency had sent the lander to the Martian land on November 2018. After landing there, it started taking selfies, offering Mar’s daily weather updates, listening to strange sounds, and identifying quakes. But Insight’s heat probe experiment (HP3) test equipment was struggling to undermine the Martian land. Insight spacecraft has utilized its robotic arm, the mole, to assist the heat probe. The robotic arm has the potential to dig out as much as 5 meters to measure the heat emitted by the internal layer of the planet. It started hammering in February 2018, so far it has managed to partially bury itself.

Now it seems like NASA’s InSight is making progress. Since the previous week, its heat probe has burrowed three-quarters of an inch. This latest effort of a new strategy arrived at after extensive testing on Earth. Scientists have found that unexpectedly hard soil is obstructing the probe from drilling. The mole requires friction from soil present around it, to move from the location. Without the grip, recoil from its self-hammering action will make it bounce in place. But the new approach, i.e., pinning, which requires pressing the scoop on insight’s robotic arm against the mole, seems to offer friction to the probe. So pinning could offer the appropriate grip which will assist the mole to burrow.

Troy Hudson, an engineer, and scientist at the JPL, is the person behind the latest recovery effort of the mole. He said the mole still has a way to go. Even more, the team is excited to see it digging the Martian land once again. Meanwhile, NASA’s other rover, Curiosity, is exploring Gale Crater. Whereas, InSight is a stationary one that has permanently locked itself in Elysium Planitia. It is along the Martian equator, thus the probe’s solar array will get enough power due to the warmness and brightness over there.