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NASA engineers returned the InSight drill to work by tapping it with a shovel



NASA engineers once again proved that they are able to solve the most complex tasks in the most difficult conditions. A precedent occurred with the InSight Martian module - during test drilling the tool of the device stuck in the soil of the Red Planet and the operators of the rover found an extremely unusual way out. They gave the rover the order to hit themselves with a shovel. And it worked!

The decision was extremely timely - the drill of the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument was to enter the planet’s soil to a depth of 5 meters and more for the first time in the history of the study of Mars. The purpose of the mission: the study of heat fluxes under the crust of Mars and an attempt to determine how much the planet actually cooled. This is a very complex operation, and a stuck drill turned it into an engineering nightmare.

Instead of a malleable sand mixture, the drill came across hard, lumpy soil. It was impossible to throw the device in any way, so NASA engineers spent several months creating models and simulations designed to free it. If the drill itself is strong enough, then the wires approaching it are very easy to break, and it was necessary to beat with a shovel with the utmost precision.

The attempt was successful and, according to mission leaders, has become a valuable experience. InSight still has a lot of work to do on the surface of Mars and the presence of the right blade in the manipulator will be very useful!

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