Happy Atheist Forum

Mole Retires on Mars

Recusant

  • Miscreant Erendrake
  • *****
  • 7319
  • Gender: Male
  • infidel barbarian
Mole Retires on Mars
« on: April 01, 2021, 04:45:48 PM »
Hey, how's that one for clickbait. Eh? Eh?  :maskwink:

Another well-aged story I dug up in the back garden and have brought in to worry. :bone!:

"NASA Has Given Up on Trying to Deploy InSight’s Mole" | Universe Today

Quote
It's always a sad day when a mission comes to an end. And it's even sadder when the mission never really got going in the first place.

That's where we're at with NASA's InSight lander. The entire mission isn't over, but the so-called Mole, the instrument designed and built by Germany's DLR, has been pronounced dead.

The Mole is, of course, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3). It's an instrument designed to measure the heat flowing from the Martian interior to the surface. The entire InSight mission (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) was focused on discovering more about the interior of Mars.

HP3 is probably the most important and complicated instrument on the lander. So losing it is a big blow to science. But it's implementation was always going to be tricky, and mission designers knew that.

The Mole's job was to burrow into the Martian surface to a depth of up 5 meters. A tether would connect the Mole to the lander, and along that tether are evenly spaced heat sensors. By studying the thermal properties of the interior of the planet, scientists could've learned a lot about its geologic history.

But getting the instrument into the ground was always going to be tricky. The Mole is a self-hammering instrument that was designed to slowly work its way down into the surface.

[. . .]

The surface of Mars where the InSight lander is situated is covered in a soil type called duracrust. It's a compacted layer of soil that doesn't fall back into the Mole's hole as it works its way downward. That's a problem.

The Mole relies on friction between itself and its surroundings. But since duracrust is too solid and won't flow into the hole, it doesn't provide the required friction.

Mission personnel tried everything to supply the missing friction. They used the instrument arm scoop to press down on the Mole. They used it to provide sideways pressure on the Mole. And they used it to try to scoop the needed soil into the hole. Each method provided some hope, but in the end, the Mole couldn't get deep enough to do science.

Now the Mole has been declared dead, after 500 final, and ultimately futile, hammer strokes in January.

“We’ve given it everything we’ve got, but Mars and our heroic mole remain incompatible,” said HP3’s principal investigator, Tilman Spohn of DLR.

But all is not lost.

The lander’s other instruments, including its seismometer, are still working. So the mission still has scientific value. And though the mole failed, despite the best efforts of people at NASA and the DLR, failure can plant the seeds of future success.

“Fortunately, we’ve learned a lot that will benefit future missions that attempt to dig into the subsurface,” said Spohn.

[Continues . . .]
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Randy

  • ****
  • 1380
  • Gender: Male
  • Learned everything from cartoons.
    • My Comic Books
Re: Mole Retires on Mars
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2021, 12:03:22 AM »
That's a shame. All the work to make it and get it to Mars and successfully land (the trickiest part) only to not be able to use it is I'm sure depressing to everyone who worked on it. The machine is working so it's no one's fault. It's simply that the planet and the Mole are incompatible.
"Maybe it's just a bunch of stuff that happens." -- Homer Simpson
"Some people focus on the destination. Atheists focus on the journey." -- Barry Goldberg

Tank

  • *****
  • 33490
  • Gender: Male
Re: Mole Retires on Mars
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2021, 06:20:38 PM »
That's a shame. All the work to make it and get it to Mars and successfully land (the trickiest part) only to not be able to use it is I'm sure depressing to everyone who worked on it. The machine is working so it's no one's fault. It's simply that the planet and the Mole are incompatible.

So they did learn something at least.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Icarus

  • The wise one.
  • *****
  • 6603
  • Gender: Male
Re: Mole Retires on Mars
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2021, 12:08:58 AM »
The NASA scientists regard a win as a plus, but they also regard a failure as a plus because they will have learned something that they did not know before.   That is the nature of scientific inquiry. 

Recusant

  • Miscreant Erendrake
  • *****
  • 7319
  • Gender: Male
  • infidel barbarian
Re: Mole Retires on Mars
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2021, 05:04:04 AM »
I dig this story.  :grin:
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


xSilverPhinx

  • Non Dvcor
  • *****
  • 19458
  • Gender: Female
  • I Spy With My Googly Eyes...JOY! IAGO!
Re: Mole Retires on Mars
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2021, 01:20:28 AM »
Hey, how's that one for clickbait. Eh? Eh?  :maskwink:


Holy moly, that's good  ;D
I am what survives if it's slain - Zack Hemsey


Recusant

  • Miscreant Erendrake
  • *****
  • 7319
  • Gender: Male
  • infidel barbarian
Re: Mole Retires on Mars
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2021, 09:04:37 AM »
 :d'oh!: :lol:
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


hermes2015

  • *****
  • 3269
  • Gender: Male
Re: Mole Retires on Mars
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2021, 09:39:29 AM »
“Who is to say that pleasure is useless?”
― Charles Eames