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NASA's attempt to burrow into Mars met 2 insurmountable obstacles: cement-like soil and an unexpected energy shortage

Added 01-15-21 08:14:03pm EST - “InSight lander's "mole" was unable to hammer through the Martian soil, and unusually dusty solar panels meant the robot was generating less power.” - Businessinsider.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Businessinsider.com: “NASA's attempt to burrow into Mars met 2 insurmountable obstacles: cement-like soil and an unexpected energy shortage”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

NASA sent its InSight lander to Mars with an ambitious mission: to study the planet's deep internal structure. A crucial piece of that effort — the "mole" — has failed despite two years of attempts to salvage it.

The mole is a revolutionary heat probe designed to burrow 16 feet into the Martian soil and take the planet's temperature. Its measurements would have revealed clues about how the planet formed and has changed over the last 4.6 billion years — a history that would help scientists track down Martian water, and possibly life.

But the mole has made little progress in the unexpectedly thick soil. Now the InSight team must ration the lander's solar power. NASA announced Thursday that the mole won't be able to dig its hole.

The mole, halfway popped out of its hole, on October 26, 2019. NASA/JPL-Caltech

"It's a bit of a personal tragedy," Sue Smrekar, a lead scientist on the InSight team who has spent 10 years working on the mole, told Insider. "Everyone tried as hard as they could make it work. So I can't ask for anything more than that."

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