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Home / Science / Finally! NASA’s InSight “mole” is out of sight, below the surface of Mars

Finally! NASA’s InSight “mole” is out of sight, below the surface of Mars



NASA InSight robotic arm

On October 3, 2020, NASA InSight withdrew its robotic arm, revealing where the thorn-like “mole” was trying to break into Mars. The copper-colored tape attached to the mole has sensors to measure the planet’s heat flux. In the coming months, the hand will scrape and compact the soil on top of the mole to help it dig. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Now that the heat probe is just below the Martian surface, the InSight hand will grab some extra soil to help it continue digging so it can take Mars̵

6;temperature.

NASAThe InSight lander continues to work to get its “mole” deep beneath the surface of Mars – a 16-inch (40-centimeter) pile machine and a heating probe. Recently, a camera on InSight’s hand took pictures of a partially filled “mole hole” showing only the scientific device of a device sticking out of the ground.

Sensors built into the cable are designed to measure the heat flowing from the planet as soon as the mole digs at least 10 feet (3 meters) deep. The mission team is working to help the native bury itself at least to such a depth that it can measure the temperature of Mars.

The mole was designed so that loose soil flowed around it, providing friction about the outer body so that it could dig deeper; without this friction, the mole simply bounces in place, clogging the ground. But the ground where InSight landed differs from previous missions: during driving, the ground sticks together, forming a small hole around the device, instead of collapsing around it and providing the necessary friction.

Replica Insight Arm scraping the soil

These shots from August 19, 2019 show a copy of the scraped soil InSight with a shovel at the end of the robotic arm in the JPL test laboratory. As the scoop moves to the left, a copy of the “mole” – a self-locking heat probe – appears. On Mars, InSight scrapes and compacts the soil on top of the mole to help it dig. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

After the mole suddenly emerged from the pit when he scored last year, the team placed a small scoop at the end of the landing party’s robotic arm on top to keep it in the ground. Now that the mole is completely fixed in the soil, they will use a shovel to scrape the extra soil on it, compacting that soil to provide more friction. As it will take months to pack enough soil, the mole is not expected to resume threshing until early 2021.

“I’m so glad we were able to recover from the unexpected ‘pop-up’ we’ve been through and deepen the mole deeper than ever,” said Troy Hudson, a NASA jet lab scientist and engineer who led the work. dig a mole. “It simply came to our notice then. We want to make sure that there is enough soil on top of the mole so that it can dig on its own without any outside help. ”

The family is officially called the heat flux and physical properties package, or HP3, and was built and provided to NASA by the German Space Agency (DLR). JPL in Southern California leads the InSight mission. Read more about the latest mole steps in this DLR blog.

More about the mission

JPL manages InSight for the NASA Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA Discovery, which is run by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver has built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise and landing space, and is supporting spacecraft operations for this mission.

A number of European partners, including the French National Spatiales Center (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), support the InSight mission. CNES provided NASA with the Seismic Experiment Instrument for Internal Structure (SEIS) together with the principal investigator IPGP (Institute of Globe Physics in Paris). IPGP made a significant contribution to SEIS; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the UK; and JPL. DLR provided a package of heat fluxes and physical properties (HP3), with a significant contribution from the Center for Space Research (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. The Spanish Center for Astrobiology (CAB) supplied temperature and wind sensors.




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