The InSight Lander Faces a New Problem

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The InSight lander faced a series of issues since it reached the Martian surface, and a new misfortune has appeared.

The InSight attempted to learn more about the inner works of the planet with the help of a heat probe that was inserted on the surface. However, the plan didn’t work as expected since the probe returned to the surface, surprising the researchers.

Preliminary data infers that the event was caused by unexpected soil properties. According to the initial plan, the probe should have reached a depth of 16 feet (or 5 meters), with the aim to collect information about the temperature at that depth.

Earlier in February, the probe, which is also known as the mole, got stuck. Researchers managed to use the robotic arm of the lander to bypass the difficulty, and everything seemed to work well. The probe was designed by the German Aerospace Centers, and engineers are already hard at work as they try to understand what happened.

InSight, or Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport, is a lander that was developed with the aim to explore the inner structure of Mars. By learning more about Mars scientists could uncover valuable information about the formation of rocky planets within the solar system. Mercury, Mars, Earth, and Venus formed more than four billion years ago along with other rocky exoplanets.

InSight can also measure tectonic activity and impacts caused by meteorites with the help of advanced tools. By using these tools the lander can peer below the surface and look for the traces of processes that shaped the planet during the early days of formation.

Some tests suggest that soil cold comes in front of the tip of the probe, filling the hole and forcing the probe to go up. The problem could be fixed in the following days but only time will tell.

As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.