Repair in a Martian way: NASA engineers put the InSight drill back to work by hitting it with a shovel

NASA engineers have once again proved that they are capable of solving the most non-trivial tasks in the most difficult conditions. A precedent happened with the InSight Martian module - during test drilling, the instrument of the device got stuck in the soil of the Red Planet and the rover operators found an extremely unusual way out. They gave the rover the order ... to hit themselves with a shovel. And it worked!

The decision was extremely timely - the drill of the "Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package" instrument was supposed to penetrate the soil of the planet to a depth of 5 meters or more for the first time in the history of Mars exploration. The purpose of the mission: to study heat flows under the crust of Mars and an attempt to determine how much the planet actually cooled down. This is a very difficult operation, and the stuck drill turned it into an engineering nightmare.

Instead of a pliable sand mixture, the drill came across hard lumpy soil. There was no way to drop the device, so NASA engineers spent several months creating models and simulations designed to free it. If the drill itself is strong enough, then the wires that fit to it are very easy to break, and it was necessary to beat with a shovel very accurately.

The attempt was successful and was, according to mission leaders, a valuable experience. InSight still has a lot of work to do on the surface of Mars, and having the right paddle in the arm will come in handy!

On such a model, methods of "freeing" the drill were worked out