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Mars InSight rover got stuck digging a hole. NASA told it to hit itself with a shovel

The radical decision ultimately saved the $800 million machine.
Credit: AP
This Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 photo made available by NASA shows a view from the arm-mounted camera on the InSight Mars lander. The spacecraft arrived on the planet on Nov. 26. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

HOUSTON — It seems like a simple task: digging a hole. But when you’re controlling the operation from another planet, even the most minor setbacks can be catastrophic.

That’s what happened when NASA’s $800 million-dollar InSight lander got itself stuck in a hole on Mars.

Well, at least part of it was.

BBC reports the high-tech contraption’s 15-inch robotic arm became trapped in the soil, which was “lumpier” than scientists had predicted. They tried several times to free it, but nothing was working.

Then, they came up with a radical idea to save the mission – but it was risky. If it failed, InSight would become just another piece of Earth junk on Mars.

The scientists told Insight to use its it’s other arm – which is basically a shovel – to “push” the digging probe free. According to Newsweek, the digging arm is lined with critical components that could be easily damaged.

But it worked! It worked so well, in fact, NASA plans to keep doing it so the digging arm, known as “The Mole”, can keep digging.

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