NASA's InSight Lander has been resting safely on Mars for almost a year and doing some really great work. Most of the robot's sensitive instruments have worked as intended, sending back data and records of seismic activity on the dusty planet. One of the tools, the so-called "mole", however, has fallen far short of expectations.
The instrument should bang itself into the surface and press itself down to a depth of 15 meters to record temperature readings. Unfortunately, the probe failed to bury itself deeper than about a foot, but NASA believes it knows why.
The self-hammering mole relies on the friction of the surrounding soil to propel itself up The ground is just too loose for the probe to reach. Fortunately, the InSight Lander is equipped with an arm that may be helpful.
With InSight's long metal arm, the science team "pokes" the mole against the side of its hole and increases the friction of the surrounding material, and I hope to give the probe a chance to fulfill its destiny.
This operation took a long time, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory had to prepare for the opportunity by removing a shell around the mole and positioning the arm. This is hampered by the fact that there is a significant communication delay between Earth and Mars and the team has to wait for its commands to be executed before it knows how to proceed.
It is worth noting that the lander's robotic arm was never designed to do this. It can not be controlled in real time, so its operators can instruct the arm to press for a few moments and then stop as if the probe were sitting on the ground here. Instead, they have to tell the robot where to place the arm ̵
This does not have to happen But wait a long time to find out about the mole's fate, but keep your fingers crossed.