TECH NASA starts new efforts to resume heat probe to study inner temperature of Mars

TECH

NASA starts new efforts to resume heat probe to study inner temperature of Mars

Xinhua

13:37, June 23, 2019

LOS ANGELES, June 22 (Xinhua) -- NASA InSight lander's mission team started new efforts on Saturday to try to get InSight's heat probe digging again on Mars, said the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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A replica of the InSight Mars Lander is on display at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on November 26, 2018. (File Photo: VCG)

InSight, a Mars lander designed to study the inner space of the planet, uses advanced instruments such as seismometer and heat-flow probe to collect preliminary data.

The heat probe, also known as the "mole," can dig below the Martian surface and measure the heat coming from inside the red planet.

The mole is a self-hammering spike which will dig as much as five meters below the surface and record the temperature of Mars.

However, the mole has not been able to dig deeper than about 30 cm below the Martian surface since Feb. 28.

Over the next few days, the mission team will raise the mole's support structure to give a better look at the mole itself. The lift is a three-step process that will take about a week, the InSight team tweeted.

Over the last several months, scientists conducted tests and analysis to understand what prevented the mole from digging. They believe the most likely cause is an unexpected lack of friction in the soil around InSight. Without enough friction, the mole will bounce in place.

"Engineers have been working hard to assess the problem," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's planetary science division. "Moving the support structure will help them gather more information and try at least one possible solution."

InSight landed safely on Mars on Nov. 26 last year on a two-year mission to explore the interior of the planet.

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