Things have gone swimming for NASA’s InSight lander on Mars. After a textbook, InSight found himself in a nice, flat area that is perfect for using his seismic sensors. In that weather monitoring package, NASA even set up the first interplanetary weather report. It would not be a robot mission on another planet but at least some problems. NASA says that the probe’s temperature probe gets stuck just below the Mars surface. 19659004] InSight has three main instruments for studying Mars. There is the seismic experiment for interior structure (SEIS), which was successfully used early this year. There is also the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE), which uses the lander’s x-band radio to capture accurate rotation readings of Mars. The third instrument is the package for heat flow and physical properties (HP3), and this is what has come up with a problem.
NASA often calls HP3 a “self-hitting nail” or a “mole”. The probe should dig into the planet to a depth of five meters, draw a seal with it containing a string of temperature sensors. NASA began driving HP3 in March 28 February, but the probe only took about three-quarters of its way out of its home before stopping. NASA started the hammering on March 2, but no significant progress has been made.
The team hoped that the soil immediately below the surface would be relatively free of rocks and gravel. Although there were some obstacles, HP3 was designed to curve around the single rock. But it can’t do that when it’s still partly inside the estate. The team has decided to pause the HP3 mission to take a detailed look at the problem.
At this time, the temperature probe is working properly. By heating to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), it measures how fast heat disappears in the martens soil. The heat conductivity value is necessary to calibrate the sensors as the grinder draws behind it. NASA does not want to risk damaging the pier by moving too fast.
NASA should have a better idea of how to proceed with HP3 in about two weeks. Until then, clouds will continue to measure the thermal conductivity on the surface.