InSight mission encountered an unexpected obstacle on Mars

InSight mission encountered an unexpected obstacle on Mars

In November 2018, the leadership of NASA marked the successful landing of the InSight spacecraft on the surface of the Red Planet. Drilling work recently started, but an unexpected problem arose.

InSight Mission

The space platform should work 720 days and conduct a full-fledged study of the Martian composition and the internal structure of the planet. The mission spent $ 480 million and equipped it with advanced equipment.

Among the tools are seismometer SEIS, which is obliged to study the tectonic Martian activity: record the marshmallows and meteorite falls. As well as an important probe HP3 (launched on February 12), which because of the drilling rig was called “mole”. It is expected to measure thermal subsurface flux.

Also, the InSight mission should clarify the size, composition and state of the core, calculate the thickness and structure of the crust and mantle. In fact, the landing site is obliged for the first time to look inside the Red Planet and determine not only the internal temperature, but also the parameters of the axial rotation of the planet.

Suspension of drilling

InSight mission encountered an unexpected obstacle on Mars

The mole probe began the drilling process last week. His task was to create a 3-5 meter well (in depth). A special thermal tape with temperature sensors is pushed into the created hole.

When planting, they tried to choose the cleanest place from boulders. However, it was difficult to predict what the mechanism would find below the surface. The installation was able to work without problems for about 5 minutes, after which it for 4 hours just knocked in one place. Scientists suspect that the “mole” stumbled upon gravel or stone.

During the 4-hour slotting, the probe deviated 15 degrees (in the vertical direction), and the mechanism stopped working. It is believed that the "mole" managed to get only 30 cm. Now the engineers are analyzing the problem and trying to find a solution. It is believed that in the next 2 weeks the drill will not function.


Studies from the HP3 device (“mole”) will be the first of its kind, since it has never been possible to study the internal heat of the planet. With a successful outcome, researchers will be able to better understand the process of forming the Martian landscape.

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