The Martian mole finally returns to action. Engineers are trying to squeeze it under the surface

The InSight Mars lander sends data to Earth every day that indicates that Mars is truly an active planet. The vibrations in the planet's interior are recorded by an extremely sensitive seismometer, air turbulence activates the on-board pressure sensor, and thermometers allow us to track the weather and seasonal changes.

Everything would be great, if not for one problem. Mars doesn't like one of InSight's onboard instruments. Of course, this is the HP3 instrument, also called the mole. This 45-centimeter probe was to hit the surface of Mars, from where it could send information about the planet's interior temperature. The process of driving the mole did not go as it should. After driving halfway through the length, the mole jumped almost entirely to the surface.

For a year, scientists from around the world have been developing ways to drive the device into the surface of Mars. Despite this, the mole stubbornly remained on the surface. Ultimately, engineers decided to directly push the mole under the surface and ...

... most likely succeeded.

The mole's primary task is to track the temperature changes in Mars itself. The heat he measures comes from the core of Mars, which, like Earth's, has been hot since the planet was created. At least it should be like that. Meanwhile, from the current location, the mole can at most measure the temperature on the planet's surface.

Unfortunately, there is no astronaut on Mars yet that could come to the place and push the instrument below the surface.

The only thing left to the engineers is a small spoon, which ends with the robotic arm of the InSight lander. Initially, scientists tried to cover the mole's surroundings so that it had something to repel itself, trying to get under the surface, but this technique did not work at all.

At the end of February, the engineers switched to plan C. They placed the spoon directly above the mole and decided to push it directly down. It was not an easy decision, because at the very top of the mole there is a tape that connects it to the lander and a strong blow could destroy it.

So far, however, it seems that Plan C has worked. Engineers pressed the mole from above and tried to make 25 hammer moves. The first pictures indicate that the mole stuck 2 cm deeper. It's not enough, but maybe it's the beginning of something bigger. If the next photos confirm that the mole is sticking, the engineers plan to help him dig entirely into the surface in the same way. If it succeeds, the robotic arm will cover the hole with its spoon, completely covering the mole. Then it will be possible to press on the covered hole, which will also certainly help the mole to dig deeper.

Scientists will now study the mole's behavior and progress over the next few weeks. If all this effort is also of no avail, it will be necessary to state that there is a stone under the mole.

The Martian mole finally returns to action. Engineers are trying to squeeze it under the surface


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