The ‘mole’ on Mars is finally underground after a push from NASA’s InSight lander

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for the first mole to burrow into the surface of Mars, scientists hope.

Not a furry mole, of course; the term is the nickname for the instrument formally known as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package on board NASA’s InSight lander mission. The lander, which touched down on Mars in November 2018, is designed to give scientists a look inside the Red Planet and gather data to help them understand its geology and internal structure. The mole is one of the lander’s three key tools to accomplish that — but for more than a year, mission personnel have struggled to deploy it.

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