Key instrument on NASA’s InSight lander is stuck. A Martian rock may be to blame

Credit: CC0 Public Domain NASA’s Mars InSight mission has hit a snag: Its heat probe appears to have struck an obstacle just below the surface of the red planet.

“We are a bit worried,” Spohn wrote in the logbook, “but tend to be optimistic.”

Spohn wrote Tuesday in the logbook.

Its mission is to measure heat escaping from Mars’ interior, which will give scientists clues about the planet’s composition and history.

The mole punched out of its housing and into the Martian soil, making quick progress during the first five minutes.

The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, was successfully deployed by the lander’s mechanical arm on Feb. 12.

Mission scientists estimate the probe has reached a depth of about a foot, meaning one end of the 16-inch mole is still sticking out of the ground.

This article was summarized automatically with AI / Article-Σ ™/ BuildR BOT™.

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Dancing atoms in perovskite materials provide insight into how solar cells work

A closer look at materials that make up conventional solar cells reveals a nearly rigid arrangement of atoms with little movement.

In hybrid perovskites, a promising class of solar cell materials, the arrangements are more flexible and atoms dance wildly around, an effect that impacts the performance of the solar cells but has been difficult to measure.

The results could explain why perovskite solar cells are so efficient and aid the quest to design hot-carrier solar cells, a theorized technology that would almost double the efficiency limits of conventional solar cells by converting more sunlight into usable electrical energy.

Perovskite solar cells, which can be produced at room temperature, offer a less expensive and potentially better performing alternative to conventional solar cell materials like silicon, which have to be manufactured at extremely high temperatures to eliminate defects.

A lack of understanding about what makes perovskite materials so efficient at converting sunlight into electricity has been a major hurdle to producing even higher efficiency perovskite solar cells.

“As a consequence, a lot of the foundational knowledge about what makes the materials work is missing. In this research, we provided an important piece of this puzzle by showing what sets them apart from more conventional solar cell materials. This provides us with scientific underpinnings that will allow us to start engineering these materials in a rational way.”

This phenomenon could explain how perovskite solar cells work so well despite the material being riddled with defects that would trap electrons and dampen performance in other materials.

This article was summarized automatically with AI / Article-Σ ™/ BuildR BOT™.

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