NASA’s months-long endeavor to burrow a hole into Mars has hit a snag, after the device charged with digging into the planet’s surface suddenly retreated about half way out of the ground.
NASA’s InSight lander is trying to insert a temperature-monitoring probe deep under Mars’ soil – but the excavation project has apparently encountered resistance from the red planet.
Mars continues to surprise us. While digging this weekend the mole backed about halfway out of the ground. Preliminary assessment points to unexpected soil properties as the main reason. Team looking at next steps. #SaveTheMole #Teamwork pic.twitter.com/UURvU8VTwZ— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) October 27, 2019
“Mars continues to surprise us,” the NASA InSight team wrote in a tweet published on Sunday. “While digging this weekend the mole backed about halfway out of the ground.”
NASA said it believes “unexpected soil properties” are the cause of the frustrating setback.
A time-lapse of the lander’s progress shows the heat probe inexplicably popping out of the hole. The device – nicknamed “mole” – is supposed to reach a depth of 16 feet (5 meters) as part of research into how rocky planets such as Mars are formed. The digging began in February, several months after the lander touched down on the planet in November 2018.
RT with additional input by GVS News Desk.