Mars InSight’s ‘Mole’ Is Moving Again

DLR Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) on the surface of Mars. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight spacecraft has used its robotic arm to help its heat probe, known as “the mole,” dig nearly 2 centimeters (3/4 of an inch) over the past week. While modest, the movement is significant: Designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground to gauge the heat escaping from the planet’s interior, the mole has only managed to partially bury itself since it started hammering in February 2019.

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Highly Accurate GPS is Possible Thanks to NASA

GPS signals help drivers to navigate to their destinations. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Navigating to within three inches of your destination is made possible by algorithms and software developed by NASA. These power a NASA system that augments the raw navigation signals provided by the U.S. Air Force’s GPS satellites to support airplane navigation around the world, direct emergency responders and, soon, guide self-driving cars.

The Air Force began launching global positioning satellites in 1978, and it continues to operate and maintain the satellite network to this day. But over the decades, NASA has played a critical role in improving the system we rely on in our daily lives.

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NASA’s InSight ‘Hears’ Peculiar Sounds on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Put an ear to the ground on Mars and you’ll be rewarded with a symphony of sounds. Granted, you’ll need superhuman hearing, but NASA’s InSight lander comes equipped with a very special “ear.”

The spacecraft’s exquisitely sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), can pick up vibrations as subtle as a breeze. The instrument was provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), and its partners.

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NASA Designing Shapeshifting Robots for Saturn’s Moons

NASA 360 takes a look at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC) known as Shapeshifter. Researched by a team of engineers at NASA JPL the Shapeshifter concept is a flying amphibious robot that could one day be used to explore the treacherous terrains of distant worlds.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Mini robots that can roll, fly, float and swim, then morph into a single machine? Together they form Shapeshifter, a developing concept for a transformational vehicle to explore treacherous, distant worlds.

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NASA Racks Up Two Emmy Nominations for Mission Coverage, Shares One with SpaceX

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA’s InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera’s transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera’s lens. This image was relayed from InSight to Earth via NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

UPDATE: NASA has won an Emmy for interactive programming for its coverage of the SpaceX Demonstration Mission-1. Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted, “Congrats to all involved and those who help tell the @NASA story every day!”

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced July 16 two award nominations for NASA for its coverage of a Mars mission and the agency’s first test of a spacecraft that will help bring crewed launches to the International Space Station back to U.S. soil.

The nominations for the 71st Emmy Awards went to:

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Newly Discovered Comet Is Likely Interstellar Visitor

Comet C/2019 Q4 as imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island on Sept. 10, 2019. (Credits: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A newly discovered comet has excited the astronomical community this week because it appears to have originated from outside the solar system. The object — designated C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) — was discovered on Aug. 30, 2019, by Gennady Borisov at the MARGO observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. The official confirmation that comet C/2019 Q4 is an interstellar comet has not yet been made, but if it is interstellar, it would be only the second such object detected. The first, ‘Oumuamua, was observed and confirmed in October 2017.

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Attached to Mars 2020 Rover

An engineer works on attaching NASA’s Mars Helicopter to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover – which has been flipped over for that purpose – on Aug. 27, 2019, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — Engineers attached NASA’s Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet, to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover today in the High Bay 1 clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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NASA-JPL Names ‘Rolling Stones Rock’ on Mars

The Rolling Stones took the stage at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 22, 2019. NASA’s Mars InSight lander team named a Martian rock “Rolling Stones Rock.” (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — For decades, the music of The Rolling Stones has had a global reach here on Earth. Now, the band’s influence extends all the way to Mars. The team behind NASA’s InSight lander has named a Martian rock after the band: ‘Rolling Stones Rock.’

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JPL’s MarCO Wins the ‘Oscar’ for Tiny Spacecraft

Mars as seen from the MarCO-B satellite. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — The first briefcase-size CubeSats to journey to another planet have been honored for their role in NASA InSight’s successful Mars landing. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) bestowed their Small Satellite Mission of the Year award to Mars Cube One, or MarCO, Aug. 8, 2019, at the annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah.

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Watch NASA Build Its Next Mars Rover

The “Seeing 2020” live video feed allows the public to watch engineers and technicians assemble and test NASA’s next Mars rover in a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A newly installed webcam offers the public a live, bird’s-eye view of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover as it takes shape at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. You can watch as JPL engineers and technicians assemble and test the rover before it embarks next year on one of the most technologically challenging interplanetary missions ever designed.

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InSight’s Team Tries New Strategy to Help the ‘Mole’

Engineers in a Mars-like test area at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory try possible strategies to aid the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) on NASA’s InSight lander, using engineering models of the lander, robotic arm and instrument. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA-JPL/Caltech PR) — Scientists and engineers have a new plan for getting NASA InSight’s heat probe, also known as the “mole,” digging again on Mars. Part of an instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), the mole is a self-hammering spike designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface and record temperature.

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Common Questions about InSight’s ‘Mole’

Signs of the Heat Probe Shifting on Mars: The support structure of the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument moved slightly during hammering, as indicated by the circular “footprints” around the instrument’s footpads. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — There’s a new plan to get InSight’s “mole” moving again. The following Q&As with two members of the team answer some of the most common questions about the burrowing device, part of a science instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3).

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Apollo Fusion, Inc. Lands NASA JPL License and Manufacturing Contract

A complete ACE thruster unit being tested. (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 7, 2019 — Today Apollo Fusion, Inc. is excited to announce it has been awarded an exclusive, worldwide commercial license to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) MaSMi (Magnetically Shielded Miniature) Hall thruster, the world’s first low-power (≤1.0 kW) magnetically shielded Hall thruster.

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NASA Instruments Image Fireball over Bering Sea

This image sequence from the MISR instrument, aboard the Terra satellite, was taken a few minutes after a meteor exploded over the Bering Sea on Dec. 18. 2018. It shows the shadow of the meteor’s trail, and the orange-tinted cloud it left behind. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — On Dec. 18, 2018, a large “fireball” – the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area – exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 kilotons of energy, or more than 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima during World War II.

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NASA is With You When You Fly, Even on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — According to the 1958 law that established NASA, where the first “A” in NASA stands for aeronautics, the agency is charged with solving the problems of flight within the atmosphere.

But the law doesn’t say which planet’s atmosphere.

In that spirit, when the decision was made to add a small helicopter to the Mars 2020 rover mission to the Red Planet, experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California looked to the agency’s finest aeronautical innovators on this planet for help.

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