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The InSight device working on Mars did not hit itself with a shovel, it just helped the mole

For a long time, the InSight apparatus operating on the surface of Mars cannot penetrate the HP3 probe (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package), which is informally called the “mole”. This probe, rather resembling a stake rather than a mole, was supposed to be pierced to a depth of five meters with the help of a shock mechanism located inside. It was assumed that by pulling a spring-loaded striker and releasing it, the “mole” will be able to gradually hammer itself to the required depth in order to deliver the sensors there.


However, HP3, not quite rightly called a “drill”, or even a “drill”, stubbornly does not want to go deep. At first, NASA experts found the soil too loose and tried to compact it using a bucket mounted on the InSight manipulator, since some initial friction was required for the initial penetration of the probe. Then they tried to help the probe, supporting it with a bucket on the side, but due to lack of friction at some point the probe even “jumped out” of the hole. The idea of ​​clicking on it from above was first rejected, since the risk of damage to the cables connecting the HP3 and InSight was too great.

In the end, after a long study and modeling of the situation on Earth, the researchers took the risk. Judging by the report of the NASA InSight team of specialists, the attempt was successful. The cable was not damaged, and scientists plan to continue to use this approach in the coming weeks, hoping that the probe will be able to deepen further.

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