NASA’s InSight Mission Might Be Out of Trouble for Now

By , in News Sci/Tech on . Tagged width: , ,

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is a robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of the planet Mars. But it seems that the robot isn’t up to the task. It couldn’t dig into the Martian soil. Or, the Martian soil rejected the mole.

On 28 February 2019, the Heat and Physical Properties Package probe started to drill into the surface of Mars. The probe and its digging mole were intended to reach a maximum depth of 5 m about two months after. Scientifically useful measurements are possible at a depth of 3 m. But on 7 March 2019, the instrument’s mole stopped digging. The mole has made it about 35 cm.

NASA fixed the InSight’s drilling instrument

NASA and JPL looked into the cause of the under-performing tool and for potential solutions and announced that it would use the InSight lander’s robotic arm to push the probe into its hole physically. Recently, NASA posted a video of the mole doing the job it’s there for. The plan seems to work, but the team still keeps fingers crossed as the mole might stop once again.

Sure, InSight has done some excellent work so far. It told stories about the quakes that rumble on the surface of the rocky red planet, it sent timely weather reports, but the mission is far from getting on like smoke. It isn’t the first problem of InSight since it landed. A certain level of wind on Mars caused a loss of sensitivity for one of its seismometers, and the seismic investigation is really the heart of this mission.

By studying the size, thickness, density and overall structure of Mars’ core, mantle, and crust, as well as the rate at which heat escapes from the planet’s interior, InSight will provide a glimpse into the evolutionary processes of all of the rocky planets in the inner Solar System if it can.

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.