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8.14.20
Digging In

NASA InSight Lander Finally Manages to Bury Its Probe Into Mars

June 3rd 20__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Robots & Machines
NASA

Gaining Traction

At long last, NASA’s InSight Mars lander managed to wedge its thermal probe underground without it getting stuck.

It sounds trivial, but the lander has been struggling to burrow the instrument, dubbed the “mole,” for more than a full year now, CNET reports. Now, finally, InSight may be able to complete its research on Mars’ internal temperature.

Spinning Wheels

After early attempts to bury the mole, NASA was worried that a large rock was blocking its path. Instead, it turned out that the terrain was too loose for the mole, which digs like a jackhammer, to get traction and push downward.

The end result was that the mole kept getting itself stuck — a problem that NASA even once deployed percussive maintenance to remedy.

But the mole is finally underground, after a helpful shove from InSight’s robotic arm, NASA tweeted from its in-character InSight account.

Lone Journey

The next test for InSight will be whether its mole can continue to dig downward on its own, as originally planned, now that it’s underground.

In order to measure Mars’ internal temperature and provide NASA with new information on how the planet formed, the probe needs to dig 16 feet beneath the surface — far too deep for the rest of InSight’s tools to give it a boost.

READ MORE: NASA InSight lander finally pushes its burrowing ‘mole’ into Mars [CNET]

More on InSight: NASA Fixes Mars Lander By Telling it To Hit Itself With a Shovel