NASA Designed a Special Claw For the Mars Insight Lander

An artist's impression of the InSight lander on Mars.

An artist's impression of the InSight lander on Mars. NASA

The claw is essential for investigating the red planet.

NASA's InSight lander will arrive on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018, along with its robotic arm. At the end of this arm is five-fingered grapple or claw, which is designed to grasp and maneuver instruments and then place them on the surface of the red planet.

You might be picturing something like a claw machine you would find in an arcade but NASA's claw is much more reliable.

"The mechanisms themselves, although they look similar, are very different. With the arcade game, when you grab that stuffed animal and pull on that stuffed animal, you actually open the claw fingers and that stuffed animal falls out," said Nicolas Haddad, mechatronics engineer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "With the InSight grapple, that mechanism is designed to latch. So once those fingers are closed, it's impossible to pull on those fingers to open it."

The claw is equipped with a wax actuator that will open the fingers. Each piece of equipment has a hook so that the claw can grab on to it. And when the robotic arm is finished maneuvering instruments, the claw can even stow itself away so the robotic arm can attend to other tasks.

Learn more in the video below from NASA: