There’s a mole rescue mission unfolding on Mars, and it has just completed a crucial maneuver.
An instrument nicknamed the “mole” on NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander has been experiencing some difficulty getting a deep survey of Mars. On Feb. 28, the mole began digging, but it soon appeared to be stuck, and the mission team was forced to command the mole to halt so engineers could come up with a solution.
Now, the team is “elated,” according to the space agency, because InSight’s robotic arm successfully removed the mole’s surrounding support structure on Friday (June 28). The team now can get a look at the mole and perhaps figure out what’s wrong, NASA officials said.
The mole is a self-hammering spike belonging to InSight’s Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, and much like its terrestrial namesake, the instrument is meant to dig deep. But according to NASA, the spike has not been able to tunnel down further than 12 inches (30 centimeters). InSight’s engineers are relieved to have successfully removed the support structure, because they should now be able to more accurately diagnose the problem.
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