Engineers of the German Aviation Center andAstronautics (DRLs), who developed and are responsible for the HP3 drill probe of the Mars InSight landing module, found out the reason why the drill was stuck during the previous drilling of Mars soil. It turns out that at the site of the landing of the module under the surface there can be a solid layer of Durikrast about 20 centimeters thick and consisting of stuck sand particles. According to experts, this is why the percussion mechanism of the HP3 drilling rig cannot compensate for recoil on impact in order to go deeper. However, scientists have found a way out.
Recall that the launch of the automatic landingInSight module was held in May 2018. Before the apparatus set the task - to explore the internal structure of the Red Planet and the geological processes occurring in her depths. The module reached Mars in November 2018. The landing took place in the Elysium Highlands. In December 2018, and then in February 2019, the module installed two main scientific tools on the surface of Mars using a robotic arm: the HP3 drilling probe, with which it is planned to measure heat flows inside the Martian soil, and the SEIS seismograph. In February, the APSS system also began to function fully, and information on weather conditions on the Red Planet is regularly collected.
All the scientific instruments of the mission to thismoment work in normal mode. "Summed up" only a drill module. Before him is the task to go deep into 3-5 meters under the Martian soil, but he had to suspend his work at a depth of about 30 centimeters. Initially, the mission team suggested that the Boer stumbled upon a large boulder of hard rock that he could not overcome. This was hinted at by the angle of inclination of the drill, which was 15 degrees relative to the vertical axis. This assumption was confirmed in the form of seismograph data of the module, during a series of diagnostic shocks. If this stone were no more than 10 centimeters, then the drill could bypass it, pushing away from itself. However, the subsequent analysis of the surface at the location of the drilling rig and stones on the surface forced experts to doubt that the cause was precisely a large stone.
At the moment, the team mission InSighttends to version with duroxite - a layer of sand about 20 centimeters thick, stuck together under the influence of chemical reactions. The Boer is able to overcome it, but he lacks stability and support. If you simply continue to drill, the well will expand and fill with detritus material, which will reduce the efficiency of the drilling rig, since the recoil will not be balanced when the drilling rig hits. This version is confirmed by the data obtained by the tool itself. Specialists are going to double-check them again, and if they are confirmed, a 2.4-meter robotic arm (Instrument Deployment Arm) can help solve the problem, which will help balance the returns.
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