Probe station InSight failed the test of independence

Shock probe tool HP3 Martian station InSight failed experimental session, whose goal was to understand whether the tool yourself now to move into the soil without the aid of a robotic arm. Now experts want to try to fill the hole with soil with a bucket to increase the adhesion of the probe with the walls of the well, reported on the website NASA.

HP3 was the second installed on the surface of Mars as a scientific tool station InSight, which explores the internal structure of the planet with the end of 2018. The installation was placed vertically in the ground loop with the temperature sensors by using a 40-cm samosobirayuschihsya impact probe, which would allow to obtain information on heat fluxes in the Martian soil from the surface to five-meter depth. The drilling began in February 2019, but almost immediately the probe ceased to move inland due to the small grip with the ground, which is not allowed to compensate for the recoil in shock.

The problem was to solve, when the station pulled the soil near the probe bucket mounted on the robotic arm of IDA, soon, however, the probe suddenly popped up from the ground. His position was able to fix, but then the problem repeated itself. Then the point of application of the force moved on the back cover of the probe that allowed him to early June 2020 to withdraw completely into the ground.

20 June 2020 the experts conducted a critical probe for the experiment “Free Mole Test”, whose goal was to understand whether the tool now independently move deeper into the soil. Images taken by the station showed that during the series of strikes the probe began to hit the back cover on the bucket, and the well showered the ground. This means that the subsurface layer duricrust estimated thickness of about 20 centimeters is really very strong, and probe again, it can not penetrate, and only bounces on the ground.

The solution may be to increase the adhesion between the probe and the wall of the wellbore. For this purpose it is proposed to first fill the hole with soil with a bucket, which is going to scrape it in there, then the bucket will again feature on the back cover of the probe and resume drilling operations. It is expected that this will happen in August. At the moment the specialists want to use a robotic arm to evaluate the dustiness of the solar panels of the station, as well as for shooting meteors in the sky of the planet to estimate the frequency of falling of meteorites on the surface of Mars.

InSight about the challenges and mysteries of the Geology of Mars can be read in our materials “Look inside the red planet” and “the Seismograph for Mars”.

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