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Mars InSight's Mole Pops Backed Out of Its Hole

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posted on Oct, 28 2019 @ 08:28 PM
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UPDATED 4:22 pm EDT (1:22 pm PDT), Oct. 27, 2019

After making progress over the past several weeks digging into the surface of Mars, InSight's mole has backed about halfway out of its hole this past weekend. Preliminary assessments point to unusual soil conditions on the Red Planet. The international mission team is developing the next steps to get it buried again.

A scoop on the end of the arm has been used in recent weeks to "pin" the mole against the wall of its hole, providing friction it needs to dig. The next step is determining how safe it is to move InSight's robotic arm away from the mole to better assess the situation. The team continues to look at the data and will formulate a plan in the next few days.

Meantime, the lander's seismometer — the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or, SEIS — continues to collect data on marsquakes in order to provide a better understanding of the Mars interior and why Earth and the Red Planet are so different today after sharing similarities billions of years ago. The French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and its partners provided the SEIS instrument to NASA.




Mars InSight's Mole Has Partially Backed Out of Its Hole

The video at the link has a gif of it popping back out of the hole.

It is easy to understand why it couldn't dig down deeper when the hole got too big. It just couldn't get any traction. But what has caused it to pop out like this now? Turns out there are really "unusual soil conditions on the Red Planet". They don't think it is a rock blocking the mole.


edit on 28-10-2019 by LookingAtMars because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 28 2019 @ 08:29 PM
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They caught a mole on mars? Wtf?



posted on Oct, 28 2019 @ 08:30 PM
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posted on Oct, 28 2019 @ 09:26 PM
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a reply to: LookingAtMars

From the article, the "unusual soil condition" mentioned is harder than expected soil. Without froction from surrounding soil, and without pinning it up against the wall of the hole, the hammering action's recoil bumps it back out.

I wonder if a future iteration coukd involve drilling anchors. Come to think of it, I wonder why it hammers, rather than drilling. Whatever the case, they'll learn plenty enough to devise a next, better Soil Hole Investigation Tool.



posted on Oct, 28 2019 @ 09:48 PM
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a reply to: dogstar23



the hammering action's recoil bumps it back out.


It was pretty deep before it came back up. A lot faster than it went in.


I think they kept it simple, It's a good design. The rover Curiosity has drilled holes using only the hammer part of it's drill. They just didn't think the soil was going to be this hard.



edit on 28-10-2019 by LookingAtMars because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 28 2019 @ 10:35 PM
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a reply to: LookingAtMars
I have driven many 8 foot ground rods using only the hammer action of a 3/4 inch hammer drill.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 12:13 AM
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originally posted by: CharlesT
a reply to: LookingAtMars
I have driven many 8 foot ground rods using only the hammer action of a 3/4 inch hammer drill.



Yes, and that’s the secret. About 20 years ago when I worked for NASA, I worked on a project to develop a US equivalent of the German design. After a few years of work, we discovered that it would not penetrate the ground even to its own length, regardless of what the theory said. It’s basically a self driving nail. Imagine a nail with a tiny hammer built inside. How far do you think it would get? The Mars mole needs a bigger hammer. It’s as simple as that.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 01:22 AM
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originally posted by: dogstar23
a reply to: LookingAtMars

Soil Hole Investigation Tool.

I see what you did there

I propose that be it's officially designated name.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 01:28 AM
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Good thing it wasn't a groundhog.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 09:34 AM
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originally posted by: 1947boomer

originally posted by: CharlesT
a reply to: LookingAtMars
I have driven many 8 foot ground rods using only the hammer action of a 3/4 inch hammer drill.



Yes, and that’s the secret. About 20 years ago when I worked for NASA, I worked on a project to develop a US equivalent of the German design. After a few years of work, we discovered that it would not penetrate the ground even to its own length, regardless of what the theory said. It’s basically a self driving nail. Imagine a nail with a tiny hammer built inside. How far do you think it would get? The Mars mole needs a bigger hammer. It’s as simple as that.


Thanks for the reply.

They are not giving up yet though. I think they thought the soil was soft and loose under the duracrust. I am sure they tested the mole on Earth a few times. The 2020 rover will be able to drill 10km down into Mars if all goes well. That should be interesting.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 12:38 PM
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a reply to: LookingAtMars

That footage is filmed on Devon Island, Canada. There are no remote-controlled robots on 'Mars.'



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 04:10 PM
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a reply to: TruthSeekerIXXI

Part of that is true, there are no remote controlled robots on Mars, they are autonomous, not remote controlled. The time it takes for communications between Mars and Earth to transmit a command and get the result from it is too long, the minimum being around 4 minutes.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 04:29 PM
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a reply to: ArMaP

They are not truly autonomous or remote controlled. They are programmer controlled.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 05:12 PM
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a reply to: LookingAtMars

They (at least the most recent) are capable of autonomous navigation, but NASA prefers to use the "drivers" on Earth to programme the path the rover will follow.

See here.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 05:25 PM
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a reply to: LookingAtMars



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 05:50 PM
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Things that make you go hmmm....

What would cause the probe to not get traction to hammer in as expected, and then pop back out when the pressure of the scoop is taken off?

I can rationally think of only one thing. They hit the water table. Think about it. The probe is sealed, and probably buoyant. It looks like it has come nearly all the way back to the surface, and is now leaning. I am betting that the hole filled with extremely salty water. They were trying to hammer into mud below the surface, and the pressure caused it to pop back out.

Wouldn't it be cool if they saw mud flowing out in a day or two?



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 06:48 PM
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a reply to: ArMaP



They (at least the most recent) are capable of autonomous navigation


The rover can't decide what to drill or what sample to put into SAM and then accomplish those tasks without being programed.

Not yet anyway.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 06:54 PM
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a reply to: MrRCflying

I was thinking they may have hit ice or some kind of gas pocket. liquid water would be cool.



Wouldn't it be cool if they saw mud flowing out in a day or two?


I am hoping for some bubbling crud to come out from the ground.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 07:14 PM
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a reply to: MrRCflying

I think gas would be more likely to create such a reaction, as gas is highly compressible.



posted on Oct, 29 2019 @ 07:17 PM
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a reply to: LookingAtMars

You're right, I was only thinking about navigation.




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