:: the mole

Managed by DLR Cologne, the mole will provide mobility to the stationary lander. Pluto (planetary undersurface tool) as the mole is called, has the ability to crawl across the surface (shown right) at the rate of 1cm every 5 seconds, using a compressed spring mechanism to propel a drive mass. Samples are collected in a cavity in the tip which opens when the mole reaches a sampling location.

The distance covered or the depth burrowed is dependent on the length of the power cable which in turn reflects the mass available for the unit. It is expected that the mole will be able to crawl up to three metres away from the lander, including the burrowing phase; it is recovered by rewinding the cable with a winch.

The robotic arm aids the sample delivery from the mouth of the mole into the opening to the laboratory inside the lander. The device has a total weight of 950g and power consumption only a couple of watts.


In addition to horizontal movement (pictured), the same process hammers the mole into the ground or under boulders a millimetre per strike.