12.5 C
New York
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Home News NASA’s InSight lander is drilling on Mars again, after being stuck for...

NASA’s InSight lander is drilling on Mars again, after being stuck for 6 months

NASA InSight’s heat probe, or “mole,” dug about a centimeter (half an inch) below the surface last week. Using a technique called “pinning,” InSight recently pressed the scoop on its robotic arm against the self-hammering mole in order to help it dig. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Finally, some good news for NASA’s InSight lander, which has been struck on Mars due to a part of its drill called “the mole” becoming wedged in the soil. Back in March the drill stopped moving, in a problem that was at first thought to be because it had hit a rock. But further investigations led the scientists to conclude that the issue was more likely due to the composition of the soil that InSight had been digging into. The soil turned out to be unexpectedly tough, meaning the drill could not generate enough friction to cling on to and move itself through.

With the drill stuck, there was no way to pick it up and move it to a different location. There is a support structure around the mole which can be moved, however, so the team used the robotic arm to remove the supports and get a closer look at the issue.

With the supports cleared, the team first tried using InSight’s robotic arm to press down onto the soil, hoping to compact it enough to give the drill something to grip onto. That was unsuccessful, so the engineers tried a risky and creative strategy instead: Moving the entire instrument containing the mole, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), as far away from the lander as possible and using the scoop on the end of the robotic arm to push the mole into the soil, in a technique called “pinning.”

With an assist from my robotic arm, the mole is digging again! We are just starting this new campaign, and are hopeful we can continue to dig.????#Mars #Teamwork pic.twitter.com/Wkj7OhVG2y

— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) October 15, 2019

All of this patient hard work has now paid off, and the mole has dug nearly 2 centimeters in the past week. That might not sound like much, but after six months of being stuck this progress is significant and gives hope InSight can get back to being fully operational. “Seeing the mole’s progress seems to indicate that there’s no rock blocking our path,” Tilman Spohn, HP3 Principal Investigator, said in a statement. “That’s great news! We’re rooting for our mole to keep going.”

This optimism is shared by others involved in the InSight project, who are delighted to see progress. “The mole still has a way to go, but we’re all thrilled to see it digging again,” Troy Hudson, an engineer and scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who has led the mole recovery effort, said in the same statement. “When we first encountered this problem, it was crushing. But I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a chance; let’s keep pressing on.’ And right now, I’m feeling giddy.”

Latest

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 With Battery Health Management Features, Fix for Finder Freezing

Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the ‌macOS Catalina‌ operating system that was released in October

First App Using Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API Launches in Switzerland

The first app that takes advantage of the Exposure Notification API developed by Apple and Google has launched in Switzerland,

Fitbit Charge 4 review

Fitbit has been producing fitness trackers for over a decade, with its products consistently considered as some of the best in its space.In March, Fitbit announced its latest premium fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge 4, the first Fitbit tracker to feature a built-in GPS.I have been using the Fitbit Charge 4 for about a week now, and am now able to share my impressions of the deviceSetting Up The Charge 4 Fitbit Charge 4 Unboxing and Setup 1 of 10 Front of Box Back of Box What's Inside Extra Band for larger wrists Clip-on charger Fitbit app setup page 1 Setup Page 2 Setup Page 3 Setup Page 4 Feature List In the box was the Charge 4, an extra band that meant for larger wrists, and the charger, which clips to the device.The Charge 4 came mostly charged, so I could setup almost immediately, and I had already set up the Fitbit app prior to receiving the watch.You will have to create an account to use the Fitbit app but it may take around ten minutes. This includes account creation through pairing and a firmware update.DisplayThe Fitbit Charge 4 has a grayscale display, much to the dismay of many a reviewer. However, I heavily disagree that this is a bad thing. I do not want my fitness tracker to be a beautiful distraction. I want it to track my fitness. That being said, the display is easy to see in any lighting and the brightness automatically adjusts to the environment.The watch also has many watch faces that you can switch between, with the one pictured above being called Rightful Stats.Sleep TrackingThe Fitbit Charge 4 features sleep tracking, with a pretty extensive breakdown in addition to a Sleep Score. The sleep tracking page gets a slight layout change for Fitbit Premium users, as you will see below.The Fitbit Charge 4 also features an SPO2 sensor that works during sleep. The SPO2 sensor is meant to measure blood oxygen variation, which can help identify breathing issues during sleep Fitness TrackingThe Fitbit Charge 4’s main selling points as far as fitness are its integrated GPS and the new measurement system known as Active Zone Minutes. Although my walks don’t exactly create the most beautiful map, here is one of my walks including the breakdown of heart zones and pace. It is important to note that the GPS isn’t in use unless you initiate an exercise from the watch prior to starting it. Exercise Tracking 1 of 6 BatteryThe Fitbit Charge 4 touts a pretty solid mixed-use battery life, lasting around four days. This is where the embedded GPS hurts. With it on, the battery life drains dramatically.The GPS is only activated when an exercise is in progress and Fitbit says this only lasts around five hours. Though, with a half-hour walk every day, the battery lasted almost four full days. However, the Charge 4 recharges in around four hours, so if it dies, you aren’t without it for too long.General UsabilityThe Fitbit app is unremarkable and looks fairly similar to any other fitness app, mostly reminding me of the UI of Samsung Health, as shown side by side below. Each of the items that appear on the Fitbit app homepage are able to be moved around to better suit your particular needsThe watch is not completely waterproof, though it is “swimproof”, to use Fitbit’s term, and is water resistant to 50M.The watch face is customizable, with the one shown in the display section being called Rightful Stats. For the watch itself, there are about 10 alternative bands available on the Fitbit website at the time of me writing this article, and they will run you anywhere between $30 and $50.AvailabilityYou can purchase the Fitbit Charge 4 for $150 at the Fitbit website in Black, Rosewood, and Storm Blue/Black or at Best Buy in Black and Rosewood.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Huawei P40 Pro: Which is the king of zoom?

We put both phones' cameras through their paces to crown a winner