NASA Fixed Mars InSight Lander by Telling It to Hit Itself with Shovel

By: | March 26th, 2020

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

NASA’s InSight lander is on the mission to explore and study the Red planet. Recently it faced some unexpected problem.

Lander’s 15-inch digging probe for burrowing beneath the surface  became stuck in the soil. After several attempts to unstick its digging probe, scientists came up with a charmingly rudimentary fix. The space agency told InSight to hit itself with a shovel.

The probe is called “the mole”. Its purpose is to dig its way through sand-like terrain of the Red Planet. The goal of the mole is to track the temperature variations of Mars. The extra-clumpiness of Martian soil makes the mole struck temporarily into place.

In the beginning, researchers at NASA tried to use the robot arm on the lander to press the side of the mole. However when it did not work, NASA decided to use the scoop on the end of the arm to press the back cap. The move was a success!

“A bit of good news from Mars,” the NASA InSight team tweeted last Friday. “Our new approach of using the robotic arm to push the mole appears to be working! The teams are excited to see the images and plan to continue this approach over the next few weeks.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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