Ground teams analyzing data from a heat probe that got stuck soon after it started digging into the Martian crust under NASA’s robotic InSight lander still hope they can free the mole from an obstruction that halted its progress more than a month ago, but the mission’s chief scientist says the chances of completing the heat probe experiment — one of InSight’s two main science instruments — may not look promising.
The French military’s newest sharp-eyed optical surveillance satellite lifted off at 1637 GMT (11:37 a.m. EST) Wednesday from French Guiana aboard a Russian-built Soyuz launcher, marking Arianespace’s 11th and final launch of 2018. The Soyuz rocket and Fregat upper stage will place the CSO 1 spacecraft into orbit around 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth. Managers delayed the launch from Tuesday due to unfavorable high-altitude winds.
NASA’s robotic InSight spacecraft, carrying a pair of European-built science instruments, successfully landed Monday on a broad, flat equatorial Martian plain named Elysium Planitia. Touchdown was confirmed at 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT) to begin a science mission focused on studying the deep interior of Mars.