Why NASA’s InSight Mission Can’t Scratch Mars’ Surface

It’s been a year since NASA’s InSight Lander landed on Mars, but one of its major instruments is having trouble cracking the Martian surface. So what’s going on?

One year into its 2-year mission, a heat probe attached to a self-burrowing mechanical mole on NASA’s InSight spacecraft is not where it is supposed to be.

The probe, designed to go as deep as 5 meters down into the soil on Mars, has barely scratched the surface, getting stuck only about 0.3 meters down before recently popping back out, leaving scientists troubleshooting on how to get the probe deeper into the Martian soil.

The engineers who designed the instrument at the German Aerospace Center had planned a sort of whack-a-mole approach when it came to burying the thermometer, but the soil ended up providing too little friction to keep the digger in place.

And so, after trying a few other approaches (like pinning the mole against the side of its burrow with the lander’s arm), the team is back to the drawing board.

Find out more about how the NASA InSight mission is going overall, and how engineers plan to tackle this Martian mole hiccup on the Red Planet on this episode of Elements.

#NASA #Mars #InSight #Seeker #Elements #Science

NASA Just Launched a Mission to Mars to Dig Deep Inside the Planet’s Core

Read More:

Mars InSight

Common Questions about InSight’s ‘Mole’

"The mole is part of the instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, and was designed to be housed within HP3’s support structure."

The ‘Mole’ on NASA’s InSight Mars Lander Just Popped Out Of Its Hole (and That’s Not Good)

"A metal mole’s up-and-down saga on Mars has taken yet another turn."

Elements is more than just a science show. It’s your science-loving best friend, tasked with keeping you updated and interested on all the compelling, innovative and groundbreaking science happening all around us. Join our passionate hosts as they help break down and present fascinating science, from quarks to quantum theory and beyond.

Seeker empowers the curious to understand the science shaping our world. We tell award-winning stories about the natural forces and groundbreaking innovations that impact our lives, our planet, and our universe.

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