Mars InSight's Mole Has Partially Backed Out of Its Hole


InSight's heat probe, or "mole," is seen after backing about halfway out of the hole it had burrowed

After making progress over the past several weeks digging into the surface of Mars, InSight's mole has backed about halfway out of its hole this past weekend.

Preliminary assessments point to unusual soil conditions on the Red Planet. The international mission team is developing the next steps to get it buried again.

A scoop on the end of the arm has been used in recent weeks to "pin" the mole against the wall of its hole, providing friction it needs to dig. The next step is determining how safe it is to move InSight's robotic arm away from the mole to better assess the situation. The team continues to look at the data and will formulate a plan in the next few days.

Meantime, the lander's seismometer -- the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or, SEIS -- continues to collect data on marsquakes in order to provide a better understanding of the Mars interior and why Earth and the Red Planet are so different today after sharing similarities billions of years ago. The French space agency, Centre National d'√Čtudes Spatiales (CNES) and its partners provided the SEIS instrument to NASA.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/8529_PIA23213.gif

In this image from Oct. 26, 2019 -- the 325th Martian day, or sol, of the mission -- InSight's heat probe, or "mole," is seen after backing about halfway out of the hole it had burrowed.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.