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(Mashable)   Dig dug done   (mashable.com) divider line
    More: Sad, Mars, robotic scoop, NASA's InSight lander, NASA engineers, first month of its mission, German Aerospace Center, Thomas Zurbuchen, next attempt  
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2631 clicks; posted to STEM » on 17 Jan 2021 at 3:14 PM (5 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



14 Comments     (+0 »)
 
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2021-01-17 2:02:19 PM  
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2021-01-17 5:41:38 PM  
It is quite tragic that they never got to drill more than a couple of feet into the surface.
 
2021-01-17 5:58:29 PM  
Rygar inconsolable.
 
2021-01-17 6:03:34 PM  
They should have used explosives.
 
2021-01-17 6:34:33 PM  
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Better call Madmax.
 
2021-01-17 6:42:14 PM  
They tried to incorporate this concept

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into a weight- and power-constrained delivery system, and with a very optimistic view of the working environment. One unseen rock, one tougher-than-expected soil layer, and it was game over.
 
2021-01-17 6:46:19 PM  

hodgemann: It is quite tragic that they never got to drill more than a couple of feet into the surface.


Next time send an actual drill, not a modified vibrator egg, and you might actually y'know, DRILL something.
 
2021-01-17 6:55:04 PM  

hodgemann: It is quite tragic that they never got to drill more than a couple of feet into the surface.


That's what my ex said about me. Only she said "inches". ( ._.)
 
2021-01-17 7:25:51 PM  
leeksfromchichis

Next time send an actual drill, not a modified vibrator egg, and you might actually y'know, DRILL something.

I used the term "weight- and power-constrained delivery system" for a reason. The goal was to penetrate as much as five meters below the surface. Five meters of drill is significantly more weighty than a self-contained impact driver and flexible power/data cable, and requires much less power. Their mistake was expecting the soil to be of a suitable uniform consistency for that method to work.
 
2021-01-17 8:20:25 PM  
at least the SLS test helped NASA put a bright spot on the week.
 
2021-01-17 8:35:12 PM  
Larva Lump:

I remember these threads back when the thing first touched down. I know a drill is quite a heavy piece of equipment. It's a heavy duty job.

The mole was just spinning around in the dust. At the very least they shouda sent a small drill to dig a starter hole for the vibrator egg. Astro-geologists. Typical.
 
2021-01-18 12:19:33 AM  
crappy design for a digger.  Would have worked if it was ribbed for pleasure
 
2021-01-18 12:29:00 AM  
RIP

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2021-01-18 12:02:48 PM  
kkinnison

crappy design for a digger.  Would have worked if it was ribbed for pleasure

Joking aside, that's a feature that seemed lacking. As I understand it, the Mole was supposed to hammer its way down through the soil (not rotate or vibrate, as has been stated) much in the way a tent peg would go. There is an internal hammer mass that is somehow driven downward longitudinally to displace soil particles radially. After each stroke the mass is raised gently for the next cycle. It was expected the friction of the surrounding soil would serve to hold it for the next impact, and it must have worked in testing with what were believed to be accurate representations of supposed Martian soil, or the design wouldn't have been selected for the mission. Clearly the actual conditions were outside the best-guess realm.

You may be familiar with the science class demonstration involving a cardboard tube, dry sand, tissue paper, a rubber band, and a broom handle. Cover one open end of the tube with the paper, securing it with the rubber band. Fill the tube about halfway with the sand. Give the broom handle to a volunteer and challenge them to push the stick down through the sand while you hold the tube vertically. I can't recall the correct search terms to find an example of this on-line, but it is an interesting demo that might've given the designers reason to experiment further.

Also, this property (whose name completely escapes me) varies wildly depending on the material in question. Sand may put up a fight, but there are non-liquid materials that are much more accommodating to pokey-sticks. This stuff, for example:

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It has the consistency of flour or cocoa mix, but offers surprisingly little resistance to the passage of a wooden mixing stick all the way to the bottom of the container.
 
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