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NASA's stuck Mars 'mole' gets helpful push from the InSight lander

We just want to take your temperature, Mars.

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A view of the "mole" on Mars from March 11.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars has been very resistant to the NASA InSight lander's burrowing heat probe, but there's a new glimmer of hope for the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, better known as the "mole."

Space fans have been following the mole's saga since it first got stuck over a year ago. The InSight team has tried everything from patting the soil around the probe to pushing against the side of it to help it gain traction. NASA's latest move involves pushing down on the top of the mole using the scoop on the end of InSight's robotic arm.

NASA tweeted an update on Friday saying, "A bit of good news from Mars: our new approach of using the robotic arm to push the mole appears to be working!" A short video shows a before and after look at the mole moving into the martian ground.

The heat probe is designed to take the internal temperature of Mars as part of InSight's mission to learn more about how rocky planets like Earth and Mars form. The mole hammers into the ground and is meant to dig to a depth of 16 feet (5 meters). 

While the mole has hit some snags, the rest of the mission has gone smoothly. In February, scientists released a banquet of research based on InSight's data on marsquakes

NASA intends to keep pushing on the mole over the next few weeks in hopes of making more progress.