Well over a year after NASA’s InSight lander parachuted down to the Martian surface, the space agency still hasn’t been able to drill too far into the red soil.
NASA has tried a few different techniques to get the drill, known as the “mole,” deeper into the ground to measure the desert planet’s inner temperature — with the greater goal of understanding geologic activity on Mars.
On Friday, NASA announced a new idea. From tens of millions of miles away, the space agency will direct the InSight lander to take its robotic arm (which has a black shovel on the end), to “push” on top of the drill.
“The InSight team hopes that pushing on this location will help the mole it bury itself and enable the heat probe to take Mars’ temperature,” NASA said.
Eventually, NASA hopes the mole will drill down 16 feet. So far, however, the agency hasn’t gone much more than a foot.
The new extraterrestrial operation is expected to take a few weeks, if it works at all.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that one day we’ll get the mole working again,” Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, the lead InSight arm engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said five months ago, when attempting another drilling scheme.