NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image of the “mole” using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on June 1, 2020, Sol 538.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

A new update on that troubled Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) experiment deployed by NASA’s Insight Mars lander.

Engineers in a Mars-like test area at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory try possible strategies to aid the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) on NASA’s InSight lander, using engineering models of the lander, robotic arm and instrument.
Credit: Tilman/NASA/JPL-Caltech

The “mole” is part of the HP3 and has only managed to partially bury itself since it started hammering in February 2019.

Good news

“We have good news! The mole is in the ground and we will be starting testing whether or not it will proceed on its own now next Saturday,” reports Tilman Spohn of the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin.

Spohn adds that the back-cap push series of operations on Insight was quite risky and went on slowly and step by step. “I was more inclined to be able to report success rather than failure. I hope for your understanding,” he notes.

NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on October 27, 2019, Sol 326.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Corona lock-down

“One of these days we may perhaps dare to say that the team used the Corona lock-down well to bring the mole in,” Spohn concludes. “In fact communications with everybody else sitting in front of their computers was comparatively easy.”

The self-hammering mole, part of the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) on NASA’s InSight lander, was only partially buried in the soil of Mars as of early June 2019, as shown in this illustration.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DLR

The Germany-provided HP3 was deployed by NASA’s Insight lender that touched down on the Red Planet in November 2018.

“Mars (and the mole) continue to make our lives…how should I say…interesting,” explained Spohn in an earlier communiqué this year.

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