InSight’s Mole Has Partially Backed Out of Its Hole

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The heat probe aboard NASA’s InSight Mars lander was supposed to dig 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) into the Martian soil, using a self-hammering tool. However, shortly after beginning its operation in February 2019, the instrument became stuck at a depth of 30 cm (1 foot). Since then, efforts have been made to get the mole moving again. Earlier this month, the InSight team announced that there was progress again using the end of the arm to “pin” the mole against the wall of its hole and thus providing friction it needs to dig. Unfortunately, the progress in downward movement was short-lived, and on October 27, the InSight team announced that the mole had only backed out halfway. Mars’ soil seems to have unusual and unexpected properties, and the cause of the mole’s behavior is being investigated. Currently, the mission team is working on the next steps to get the mole buried again. READ MORE