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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

Also Read:Space X Crew Capsule Successfully Docks at International Space Station

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

Elon Musk Aims to Send 10 Lakh People to Mars by Year 2050

Musk has already estimated the cost of having a self-sustaining civilization on the Red Planet which is "between $100 billion and $10 trillion"

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Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk aims to send 10 lakh people to Mars by 2050 and in a series of tweets, has revealed how is he going to achieve the daunting task of colonising the Red Planet and make humans beings ‘multiplanetary’.

Throwing more details about his Starship programme, Musk said the rocket would carry many megatons of cargo per year to the Red Planet to prepare Mars for a human presence by mid-century.

“Megatons per year to orbit are needed for life to become multiplanetary,” he tweeted.

“Starship design goal is 3 flights/day avg rate, so over 1,000 flights/year at over 100 tonnes/flight, so every 10 ships yield 1 megaton per year to orbit,” Musk explained to his 30.7 million followers.

The orbital Starship prototype, designed “SN1” is currently under construction at SpaceX’s Texas facility.

“Building 100 Starships/year gets to 1,000 in 10 years or 100 megatons/year or maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync,” the SpaceX CEO further explained.

That translates to a schedule of once every two years when Earth and Mars are closest to one another.

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SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, left, speaks during an event. VOA

SpaceX’s goal, according to Musk, is to finally send 10 lakh people to Mars by 2050.

In September last year, SpaceX requested NASA to provide it with potential landing sites on the Red Planet.

SpaceX is building the Starship (formerly known as the BFR), a fully reusable vehicle designed to take humans and supplies to Mars.

Also Read: Actress Pooja Bhatt Urges Bollywood on Twitter To Clean Film City

Musk earlier floated the idea that making Mars warmer would be crucial for making it habitable for humans and one way of doing it would be launching thermonuclear weapons in order to create tiny “suns” over the regions.

The idea is to convert any frozen carbon dioxide into gas, thereby engineering a greenhouse gas.

Musk has already estimated the cost of having a self-sustaining civilization on the Red Planet which is “between $100 billion and $10 trillion”.

He arrived at the figure after estimating the approximate future cost of sending a minimum payload to Mars “to nearest order of magnitude”, at $100,000 per tonne. So if building a self-sustaining city on Mars requires a million tonnes of cargo, the cost would be around $100 billion, Musk calculated. (IANS)