News ID: 239638
Published: 0829 GMT March 02, 2019

Mars lander starts digging on red planet, hits snags

Mars lander starts digging on red planet, hits snags
NASA/JPL-CALTECH
This image was acquired on March 1, 2019 by NASA's InSight Mars lander using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC).

NASA’s newest Mars lander has started digging into the red planet, but hit a few snags, scientists said on Friday.

The German drilling instrument on the InSight lander struck what appeared to be a couple of stones, AP wrote.

It only managed to burrow between 18 centimeters and 50 centimeters, far short of the first dig’s goal, said the German Aerospace Center.

The hammering device in the ‘mole’ was developed by the Astronika engineering company in Poland.

“This is not very good news for me because although the hammer is proving itself ... the Mars environment is not very favorable to us,” said the company’s chief engineer, Jerzy Grygorczuk.

Over time, the team is shooting for a depth of up to 16 feet (five meters), which would set an otherworldly record. The lander is digging deep to measure the planet’s internal temperature.

InSight landed on Mars last November. Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the US, sent commands to the lander on Thursday to begin digging. It’ll rest for a bit before burrowing again.

The spacecraft already has a seismometer on the surface, listening for potential quakes. The lander is stationary, but has a robot arm to maneuver these two main experiments.

 

 

   
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Resource: AP
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