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Update on InSight’s mole: It is now underground

InSight's mole now completely buried
Click for full image.

An update today on the mole digging tool on the Mars lander InSight has revealed that the mole appears to finally be completely buried, though it remains unclear whether its most recent digging effort had succeeded in digging downward.

We found that during the first two rounds of hammering and during the first half of the third round of hammering, the scoop went further into the sand. Since the Mole was hidden under the scoop, the penetration of the probe itself could not be observed directly.

During the hammering, the flat tether running to the probe moved considerably, but these could only be clearly identified as forward movements during the hammering on 22 August. Overall, we could estimate from the movements of the scoop that the Mole moved at most one centimetre further into the ground. It was interesting to observe that during the second half of the round of 250 hammer blows on 19 September, the scoop did not go any further, probably because it encountered duricrust. This was certainly a desired outcome, as it allowed a second Free Mole Test to be conducted. In fact, the probe continued to move according to the movements of the tether, but it could not be clearly determined that these movements brought the Mole deeper into the ground.

The image shows InSight’s arm above the filled hole, with the mole’s flat tether coming out of the ground.

They are now going to fill the hole more, and then press down with the scoop during later drilling efforts to see if this allows the mole to proceed downward. If it fails I’m not sure if there is anything else they will be able to do to get the mole to work.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

9 comments

  • Hindsight, there could have been measurement markings on the tether.

  • pzatchok

    I make those type of “cables”.

    We could have easily placed them on if asked to.

    Plus that is exactly the wrong application for that material.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @pzatchok, it looks to me like the flat cables which connect the keyboard to the motherboard in my laptop?
    Surely a round cable , perhaps even with a teflon or similar smooth coating would be more suitable?… I’m only an armchair scientist… But that cable just looks wrong!

  • LocalFluff

    @Charles
    Yeah! Curiosity’s wheels leaving marks in the sand might seem a bit silly, but such things can come in handy. Not that there’s much more to do now other than to keep on hammering. Or perhaps dig up a high pile of sand ontop of it, hooping for some extra pressure?

  • pzatchok

    They might have went with one flat cable to reduce signal to noise ratio for the sensors but I can not see that being a real problem.

    And yes a standard round cable would have been better.

    They might have thought a round cable might have bound up on the reel and a flat one would not.

    But the insulation on those flat cables is very thin and the junction between the cable and circuit board is fragile.

  • Edward

    Lee Stevenson and pzatchok,
    They may have chosen a ribbon cable for greater flexibility than they could get with a round one.

  • pzatchok

    They are not that flexible.

    They bend great along one axis only.

  • Edward

    pzatchok,
    They are extremely flexible in that axis. This flexibility is one reason why I used them in a couple of my designs.

  • pzatchok

    I work for the Aerospace and Defense division of this company.
    https://www.ttmtech.com/

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