The Mole's Martial Battles were not in vain.
The buried heat probe aboard NASA's InSight Mars Lander was designed to drive 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) underground with a self-hamming tool called "The Mole" , But the mole stayed just half a meter (0.3 m) or so shortly after its deployment in February 2019 and could not move for months.
"We scratched our heads for a while trying to figure out what we could do." InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said on Friday (October 18) during a lecture on the 22nd International Mars Society Congress in Los Angeles.
Related: Mars InSight in Photos: NASA's Mission to Explore the Core of the Red Planet
The InSight team went into two possible explanations for the lack of progress of the Mole: Either a big stone blocked the way, or The little excavator had lost the friction with the bottom of the Red Planet. Without a good grip on the dirt, the mole can not move much.
Last week we received some good news: The InSight team had got the mole to move a few inches with a "pin" technique, which shovels the landing gear against the mole This result showed that hypothesis number two was probably on the money and offered the hope that the mole would eventually reach its prescribed depth.
But even if this is not the case, the mole will be the team have taught something interesting about Mars, unlike typical holes dug here on Earth, for example, the hole excavated by InSight has no dirt lip on the edge, said Hoffman.
"Where did the ground go?" He said, "Basically, it was struck back into the ground, so it seems to be very cohesive, even though it is very dusty."
And this is a weird ko A combination of properties strongly suggesting that Mars dirt is alien in several ways.
"Soil properties are very different than anything we've ever seen on Earth, which is a very interesting result," Hoffman said, detailing the planet's detailed 3D map from the crust to the core. This work will reveal much about how rocky planets form and develop, mission team members said.
The Lander comprises two major scientific tools: the buried heat probe, officially called the Heat Flow and Physical Property Package (HP3), and a series of supersensitive seismometers known as SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure).
SEIS has already detected 1
"So many marchquakes, but a little less severe than you might expect," said Hoffman.
Most earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates that form the crust of our planet. But Mars does not seem to have such plates. The quakes of the Red Planet – and earthquake quakes – are likely due to continuous cooling and contraction of the rock, which, according to NASA officials (19459005), leads to tensions that eventually break the crust.