The engineers of the InSight mission have concluded that in the landing place of the Red Planet under the surface there can be a hard layer of a Twig, about twenty centimeters in thickness, consisting of clogged sand grains. Therefore, the HP team3 I can not compensate for the stroke in strikes to move forward and the robotic arm of the station can help her, according to a blog on the DLR website.
The launch of the InSight automatic investigation mission took place in May 2018. The main mission is to study the internal structure of Mars and the geological processes in its depths. The station made a soft landing in November 2018 in the Elysium Highland area, and in mid-December 2018 and February 2019 it secured two main scientific instruments of the mission on the surface of Mars: the HP drill3designed to measure the heat flow in the Martian soil and the SEIS seismograph. At the beginning of February, the APSS sensor system began the entire operation, collecting data on weather conditions on a regular basis.
At the moment, all the scientific instruments of the mission work normally, except for the HP tool.3, which previously suspended its work to a depth of 30 centimeters. It was assumed that the drill collide with a large piece of rock and could not go any further, or its rear part took the support structure by joining a small stone, because the incline is now approximately 15 degrees from the vertical axis. The first version is confirmed by the data obtained by the seismograph during a series of diagnostic shocks, but the size of the barrier must be more than 10 cm, otherwise the drill bit will be able to prevent or repel it. However, the observed distribution of stones on the Mars surface at the landing site considerably reduces the likelihood that the barrier will be a big stone. The second version has not yet been tested on an experimental instrument model at the NASA Rede Propulsion Laboratory.
Now the mission engineers are inclined to the third version of what happened. It is assumed that in the place of the perforation there is a hard layer of Duricrist, about twenty centimeters in thickness, which consists of sand grains tied together as a result of chemical reactions. The drill bit can overtake it, but in the process of operation, the well spreads more and becomes full of detrital material, which reduces the friction between the walls of the drill bit and the surrounding substance, so that the recoil in the impact is not balanced and the efficiency of drill bit down This version is confirmed by the technical data obtained by the tool. If it is true, then the problem can be solved with the help of the 2.4-meter robotic arm of the IDA (Instrument Implementation Arm), which will help to balance the return.
How InSight scientific instruments and other mission details work in our "Look inside the Red Planet" material, and the mysteries of Martian geology are described in our other "Seismograph for Mars" material.