NASA’s InSight lander has had a fairly successful mission on Mars, investigating “earthquakes” on Mars and listening to strange sounds on the red planet. One problem, however, is that the lander’s “Mouse” thermal probe mission to Mars is not going well.
The thermal probe was designed to penetrate the Martian soil to capture the temperature inside the planet, but the probe has been stuck. NASA and the Mole team have spent more than a year working on possible solutions to the Mole’s getting stuck, and they may have finally made some progress.
“After a few assists on my robot arm, the Mole appears to be going underground,” the NASA Insight team account posted On Twitter Wednesday. It’s a real challenge to troubleshoot from millions of miles away. “
The Insight team shared a process of GIF that involved pushing the top of the detector with a shovel at the end of the lander’s robotic arm. The good news suggests that the Mole’s problem is not that the stone blocked its path, but the composition of the Martian soil at the site of the mission. The detector cannot get enough friction to push down.
The Mole team is led by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). You can learn more about the details of the hard work it has done in wednesday’s log update from Tilman Spohn, head of the Mole instrument at the German Aerospace Center. This is a study of patience and perseverance.
The next key step is to see if the Mole can dig independently, a process the DLR calls the “free mole” test. If the test continues to encounter obstacles, the team may try to fill the hole with dirt or push the detector with the edge of the shovel.
Insight’s mission is to learn more about how rocky planets such as Mars and Earth are formed. Heat detectors can provide scientists with valuable data.