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InSight mole
enigneers have moved InSight’s robotic arm into position to push down on the mole in the latest effort to get the probe burrowing into the surface again. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

WASHINGTON — Engineers plan to use the robotic arm on its InSight Mars lander to push a heat flow probe into the surface, acknowledging that they have “few alternatives” if that effort fails.

The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument team has spent nearly a year trying to get the instrument’s probe, or “mole,” to burrow into the surface. The mole has an internal hammering mechanism that is designed to drive the probe as deep as five meters into the surface in order to measure the heat flow from the planet’s interior.

The mole, though, stopped only about 30 centimeters below the surface. The mission has tried a number of ways to

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