The drilling rig of the InSight Martian landing platform, which was returned to work at the end of last autumn, began to climb up after another attempt to plunge into the bowels of the planet. The official Twitter account of the mission writes about this.
“In the past few weeks, we have made serious progress, but recently the drill began to rise again and came out of the ground a few centimeters. Nevertheless, the scientific team intends to continue its work and is considering several options for resuming drilling,” the experts write.
After making good progress in recent weeks, another day of digging on #Mars leads to the mole backing out by a couple of centimeters. My team keeps pushing forward and is exploring several options.
- NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) January 21, 2020
New problems in the operation of the HP3 drill, according to representatives of NASA, appeared after a short pause, which happened at the initiative of the project management after the drill almost completely entered the ground and reached the point where it had its first serious problems in October last year.
Then specialists from NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the main developer of the rig, had to remove the manipulator arm that had supported the device during past drilling sessions. The fact is that she began to threaten the flexible cable that connects the drilling rig to the landing platform.
At first, this step helped the Boer move faster, but literally the next day he partially flew out of the hole and leaned at a dangerous angle. This made the mission specialists once again stop drilling and think about ways to rescue HP3. At the end of last year, NASA and DLR experts solved this problem by successfully pinching the drill with the InSight manipulator again. This helped him dive to the same depth in the bowels of Mars, after which the drill was again stopped.
In early January, the experts decided to continue drilling without support from the probe arm. Almost immediately, this led to the fact that the drill began to rise again upwards, and not plunge into the bowels of the planet. Now the mission specialists are studying the data on the properties of the soil of Mars, which the HP3 sensors collected during the pause. This information, scientists hope, could help understand how to help HP3 drill Mars to an estimated depth of five meters.
The InSight lander, a joint project between NASA, DLR and the French National Center for Scientific Research, landed on the surface of Mars in December 2018. Its main tasks are the search for traces of Marsquakes and the study of the internal structure of the Red Planet. The scientific work of the probe began in February last year, when German and American scientists completed the installation of the SEIS seismograph and began to deploy the HP3 drilling rig.