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Mars InSights & # 39; Mole & # 39; moves again



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This GIF shows the NASA InSight heat probe ("Mole") digging about one centimeter below the surface last week. Using a technique called "pinning," InSight recently pressed the shovel on his robotic arm against the self-hammering mole to help him dig. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Last week, the NASA spacecraft InSight used its robotic arm to dig its heat probe, called "the mole," nearly 2 inches deep. Although the movement is modest, it is significant: it should dig up to 5 meters underground to measure the heat that escapes from within the planet. The mole has only partially managed to bury himself since he began hammering in February 201

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The latest move is the result of a new strategy developed after extensive testing on Earth. It was found that unexpectedly strong soil stops the progress of the mole. The mole needs friction from the surrounding ground to move: if it does not rebound, it simply jumps in place. When you press the bucket against the mole on InSight's robotic arm, a new technique called "pinning" seems to provide the probe with the friction it needs to dig further.

Since October 8, 2019, the mole has struck 220 times three times. Images sent down from the spacecraft's cameras have shown that the mole is gradually penetrating the ground. It will take more time and more time for the team to know how far the mole can go.

The mole is part of an instrument called Heat Flow and Physical Properties (HP3), which was provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

"If you see the progress of the mole, it seems to indicate that no stone is blocking our way," said Tilman Spohn, Chief Researcher of the HP3 of DLR. "This is great news! We want our mole to continue."

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California leads the InSight mission. JPL has tested the movement of the robotic arm with true-to-scale replicas of InSight and the mole. The engineers continue to test what would happen if the mole dropped below the range of the robot arm. When it stops progressing, they may scrape earth on the mole and add mass to resist the mole's recoil.

If there are no other options, they would consider pushing the shovel directly onto the mole while trying to avoid the delicate line there; The cable powers the instrument and forwards data from the instrument.

"The mole still has a long way to go, but we're all looking forward to digging it again," said Troy Hudson of JPL, an engineer and scientist who led the mole recovery efforts. "It was a crushing problem the first time we encountered this problem, but I figured:" Maybe there's a chance, let's move on. "And right now I'm feeling dizzy."


NASA urges to rescue the heat probe of Mars InSight Lander


Provided by
Jet Propulsion Laboratory




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Mars InSights & # 39; Mole & # 39; is moving again (2019, 17 October)
retrieved on October 17, 2019
from https://phys.org/news/2019-10-mars-insight-mole.html

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