Engineers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are busy working with a replica InSight Lander to see if they can understand what’s blocking the lander’s mole.
The mole is the short name for the lander’s Heat Probe, which is hammering its way into the Martian surface.
“We are investigating and testing various possible scenarios to find out what led to the ‘Mole’ stopping,” explains Torben Wippermann, Test Leader at the DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen.
In order to hammer its way into the surface, the mole requires friction between itself and the sand its hammering into.
When the mole was being tested on Earth, it was tested in an analogue of Martian sand, and was able to hammer its way down to the ideal 5 meter depth with no problems.