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NASA’s Newest Mars Lander Starts Digging Into The Red Planet

InSight landed on Mars last November. Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California sent commands to the lander Thursday to begin digging. It'll rest for a bit before burrowing again.

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NASA
This photo, provided by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows the new Mars lander placing a quake monitor on the planet’s dusty red surface. The unprecedented milestone occurred less than a month after Mars InSight’s touchdown. VOA

NASA’s newest Mars lander has started digging into the red planet, but hit a few snags, scientists said Friday.

The German drilling instrument on the InSight lander hit what appeared to be a couple of stones. It only managed to burrow between half a foot (18 centimeters) and about 1-and-a-half feet (50 centimeters), far short of the first dig’s goal, said the German Aerospace Center.

The hammering device in the “mole” was developed by the Astronika engineering company in Poland.

NASA
The spacecraft already has a seismometer on the surface, listening for potential quakes. The lander is stationary, but has a robot arm to maneuver these two main experiments. VOA

“This is not very good news for me because although the hammer is proving itself … the Mars environment is not very favorable to us,” said the company’s chief engineer, Jerzy Grygorczuk.

Over time, the team is shooting for a depth of up to 16 feet (5 meters), which would set an otherworldly record. The lander is digging deep to measure the planet’s internal temperature.

Mars
Red Planet: Mars to Come Closest to Earth in 15 Years Next Month. Pixabay

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InSight landed on Mars last November. Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California sent commands to the lander Thursday to begin digging. It’ll rest for a bit before burrowing again.

The spacecraft already has a seismometer on the surface, listening for potential quakes. The lander is stationary, but has a robot arm to maneuver these two main experiments. (VOA)

Next Story

NASA Joins Hands with ISRO to Track Vikram ‘Calling Home’

The IMAGE satellite was launched by NASA in 2000 and lost contact after five years

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University of Iowa, Radiation, Sun
FILE - Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 14, 2010. VOA

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is continuing its attempt to reach out to India’s moon lander sending communication signals with its Deep Space Network (DSN), said officials.

It is also reported the American space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is sending radio signals to Vikram.

“Attempts are being made to reestablish communication links with the moon lander Vikram. The attempts will be made till September 20-21 when the sunlight will be there in the area where the Vikram has landed,” an ISRO official preferring anonymity told IANS.

The ISRO is trying to establish link with Vikram with its Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu near Bengaluru.

India, Moon, Mission
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan displays a model of Chanrayaan 2 orbiter and rover during a press conference at their headquarters in Bangalore, India, Aug. 20, 2019. VOA

Scott Tilley, an amateur astronomer who found American weather satellite IMAGE in 2018 that was considered to be lost, on September 10, tweeted: “#DSN 24 beams 12KW of RF at the #Moon in hopes of stimulating #Chandrayaan2’s lander #VikramLander into communicating with home.

“Here’s a eerie recording of the searcher’s signal reflected off the Moon and back to Earth via EME (Earth Moon Earth) on 2103.7MHz.”

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“Meanwhile the DSN24 continues emitting its beacon in hopes #VikramLander will respond…A Good Night all!” he said in a recent tweet.

The IMAGE satellite was launched by NASA in 2000 and lost contact after five years. (IANS)