NASA is continuing efforts to recover the InSight landerâs heat probe that stopped operating since it began digging the MartianÂ surfaceÂ in February. The agency said Thursday it is analyzing various ways of maneuvering InSightâs robotic arm to assist the heat probe, which is known as âthe moleâ and is intended to dig up to 16 feet below Mars’ surface to measure the amount of heat it emanates.
During the operation, the team discovered up to 4 inches of duricrust or thick cemented soil beneath the planet’s surface. The team is working on soil-scraping techniques as part of the probe and plans to make the images captured by the lander available to the public.
“This might increase friction enough to keep it moving forward when mole hammering resumes,” said Sue Smrekar, deputy principal investigator for the InSight mission atÂ NASA’s Jet Propulsion LaboratoryÂ in Pasadena, Calif.
JPL manages the InSight program, whileÂ the German Aerospace Center built the heat probe as part of theÂ Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrumentation package.