Finally buried its probe beneath Martian surface

NASA’s InSight lander has taken readings of Mars quakes beneath the planet’s surface as well as captured sounds of Mars. It has however been struggling to bury its heat probe on Mars for more than a year.

The heat probe has now successfully made it beneath the surface.


Scientists and engineers are hopeful that InSight lander will be able to get back to its mission of collecting temperature information from inside the planet.
The problem occurred because the Martian soil around the lander is a little bit different from what was expected.

The soil tends to stick together in clumps and that makes it hard for the heat probe, also known as the mole, to grab onto. The heat probe needs friction to move through the soil but has struggled. When it used its hammering action to try to get deeper, it popped out of the hole entirely.


The team has used techniques like pushing on the end of the mole with the lander’s robotic arm to force it into place.

The technique seems to have worked out, with a recent series of images taken by InSight’s camera showing the mole now buried beneath the soil.


Troy Hudson, the scientist and engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “I’m very glad we were able to recover from the unexpected ‘pop out’ event we experienced and get the mole deeper than it’s ever been. But we’re not quite done. We want to make sure there is enough soil on top of the mole to enable it to dig on its own without any assistance from the arm.”

The InSight team will now spend some more time using a scoop on the end of the lander’s robotic arm to pick up soil and place it on top of the mole. This is to make entirely sure that the mole is safe and secure.

The hope is that this additional soil will create more friction and prevent the mole from popping out of its hole again. This will take some time though. The team is not expecting the mole to start hammering down to its desired depth until next year.

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