NASA announced the end of a heat probe manufactured by DLR (German Aerospace Center) and implanted into Mars in the Insight mission. Nicole Mole (mole, in English), the instrument was intended to excavate the red planet, reach depths of up to five meters and measure the internal temperature, contributing with information on the evolution and geology of Mars.
Launched on February 28, 2019, Mole failed to proceed. They found unexpected resistance in Martian soil, which condenses. This prevented the generation of the friction required to probe at sufficient depth of field.
The final attempt took place on Saturday (9), when the mission team used a one-of-a-kind shell on the Insight Robotic Arm to scrape the soil on the probe and restrict it to provide more friction. After Mole carried out the 500 explosions without any progress, the team finished work and decided the end of the operation.
“We had everything, but Mars and our heroic mole are incompatible,” said DLR’s Tilman Spawn. “Fortunately, we have learned a lot that will benefit future missions that will try to dig underground”.
The discovery was the first of its kind, proposing to excavate the surface of the red planet. By understanding these environments, future astronauts will have a better knowledge of how to dig the ground to extract water in the form of ice; And scientists will have the ability to understand the potential of microbial life.
According to NASA, despite not being able to reach the ultimate objectives, the Mole experiment – based on images created from scratch and made from clay generated by previous missions – offers great lessons. In addition to learning about soil at this location, engineers gained a great deal of experience operating a robotic branch from millions of kilometers away.
Mission in progress
Despite the end of the “Mole”, the mission continues to explore the area with its other equipment. SIS (seismic experience for internal structure, in free translation) is measuring seismic shocks and other phenomena; And the Rhys (rotation experiment and internal structure) tool works to discover the shape of iron-rich nuclei on the planet. The terrestrial module’s weather station is also operational.
Insight investigation three years ago, in May 2018, and Landed on mars on November 26, 2018. The mission, according to the latest information from NASA, is expected to continue until December 2022.