Finally! Below the surface of Mars is NASA Insight’s “mall” outsite

NASA Insight Robotic Arm

NASA’s Insight withdrew its robotic arm on October 3, 2020, and revealed where a spike-like “mole” was trying to enter Mars. The copper colored ribbon attached to the mole has sensors to measure the earth’s heat flux. In the coming months, the hand will dig up the ground on top of the mole to help it chisel and control it. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Now that the heat probe is below the surface of Mars, Insight’s hand will cut some extra ground at the top to help keep it digging, so it will take Mars‘Temperature.

NASAThe Insight Lander continues to work to get its “mole” – a 16-inch (40 cm long) pile driver and heat probe – deep under the surface of Mars. The camera on Insight’s arm recently took images of a now partially filled “mole hole”, showing only the device’s science tether emerging from the ground.

Once the mole has dug at least 10 feet (3 m) deep, sensors embedded in the tether are designed to measure the heat flowing from the planet. The mission team is helping Mall Borough reach at least that depth so that it can take the temperature of Mars.

The mole was designed to keep loose soil flowing around it, providing friction against its external hull so it could dig deeper; Without this friction, the mole bounces in place just as it hits the ground. But the soil where Insight landed is different from the previous mission: when making a hammer, the clay sticks together, creating a small hole around the device instead of breaking up the part around it and providing the necessary friction.

Replica Insight Arm Scraping Clay

This footage from August 19, 2019, shows a replica of Insight scraping clay with a scoop at the end of a robotic arm in a JPL testing laboratory. A replica of the “mole” – Lander’s self-hammering heat probe – comes to see the scoop go to the left. On Mars, Insight will scrape the ground at the top of the mole to help it gnaw. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

After the mole unexpectedly came out of the pit while hammering last year, the team placed a small scoop on top of Lender’s robotic arm to keep it in the ground. Now that the mole is completely embedded in the ground, they will use a scoop to remove excess clay on top of it by tamping with the clay to help provide more friction. Because it will take months to get enough soil, the mole is not expected to resume hammering in early 2021.

Troy Hudson, scientist and engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “But we’re not quite done. We want to make sure the mole has enough soil on top of it to dig on its own without any help.”

The mole is formally called the heat flow and physical properties package or HP.3, And was created and provided to NASA by the German Space Agency (DLR). JPL Leads to Insight Mission in Southern California. Read more about Mole’s latest progress on this DLR blog.

More about the mission

JPL manages Insight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Insight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, powered by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntville, Alabama. In Denver, Lehed Kheid Martin Space built the Insight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for this mission.

Many European partners are supporting the Insight mission, including France’s Center National d’Udes Tudes Spatial (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). CNES By I.P.S. NASA was provided with a seismic experiment for interior structure (CIS) along with the chief investigator of the (Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions to SEIS came from IPGP; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland (ETH Zurich); Imperial College London And Oxford University in the United Kingdom; And J.P.L. The DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP)3) Tool, with significant contributions from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poland and the Space Research Center (CBK) of Astronica. The Centro de Astrobiologia (CAB) in Spain provided temperature and wind sensors.