NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on September 29, 2019, Sol 298.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



That troubled heat probe on NASA’s InSight Mars lander continues to be a worrisome dilemma.

The instruments locomotion system, a self impelling nail nicknamed “the mole” was designed to hammer itself down into the surface of Mars. Labeled the Heat and Physical Properties Package (HP3), the German-provided mole hasn’t been able to dig deeper than about 12 inches (30 centimeters) below the Martian surface since Feb. 28, 2019.



The plan

Spacecraft engineers are back at it, continuing to interact with the device, working the mole’s immediate surroundings utilizing InSight’s robotic arm.

It was decided earlier to go ahead with the plan of loading the surface using InSight’s scoop to increase pressure and thus friction on the mole hull. However, the pit the device created would first have to be collapsed.

Bottom line: Will they succeed in covering up and filling in this hole in one?

Leave a Reply