Ever since its successful landing at Elysium Planitia on Mars back on November 26th of last year, NASA’s InSight spacecraft has been feverishly studying the planet’s internal structure to get a sense of how it formed and subsequently evolved over billions of years.
These studies are currently being conducted by use of a plethora of scientific instruments and experiments, including an advanced self-hammering probe (affectionately nicknamed the “mole”) that can monitor heat flow through the Martian surface. However, this probe has suffered from some issues that require a resolution plan to be implemented.
This instrument, known officially as the Heat and Physical Properties Probe – or HP3 for short – was developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and provided to NASA for use on the InSight lander.
The small, 35 centimeter-long probe was designed to burrow as deep as 5 meters (16 feet) below the surface of Mars while connected to a tether, which is embedded with temperature sensors that can determine how efficiently heat travels from the planet’s core.
Data taken from could then be used to reveal new information about Mars’ core and its state of matter – whether it is currently a liquid or solid core.