NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover operates into puzzling sampling conundrum

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has stumbled into an situation in the course of its initial sampling endeavor. 


“#SamplingMars is 1 of my most intricate tasks. Early pictures and info present a successful drill gap, but no sample in the tube–something we’ve in no way seen in tests on Earth,” the rover’s Twitter account announced on Friday. “Mars keeps stunning us. We’re functioning by way of this new problem.”

In a launch from the agency, the Southern California-based mostly Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) which prospects the mission wrote that data despatched back to Earth right after Perseverance’s to start with rock sampling attempt indicated “no rock was collected.” 

The 2,260-pound rover carries 43 titanium sample tubes in its mission to search for intriguing rocks and sediment – most likely main to signs of historical microbial existence on the purple planet – and is discovering Jezero Crater: the location in which it 1st landed in February. 

“While this is not the ‘hole-in-one’ we hoped for, there is often hazard with breaking new floor,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., reported in a assertion. “I am self-confident we have the suitable group doing the job this, and we will persevere towards a solution to guarantee potential success.”

JPL notes that Perseverance’s Sampling and Caching System takes advantage of a “hollow coring bit and a percussive drill” at the stop of its extended robotic arm to extract the samples. 

The drill and bit were engaged as prepared in the course of its initially attempt and the sample tube was processed as was intended. 

Perseverance’s Navigation Digicam Picture of 1st Borehole: The drill gap from Perseverance’s to start with sample-assortment try can be witnessed, together with the shadow of the rover, in this image taken by one particular of the rover’s navigation cameras. 
(Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

“One of the techniques that takes place following placing a probe into the collection tube is to measure the quantity of the sample,” Perseverance surface area mission manager Jessica Samuels described even more. “The probe did not come across the expected resistance that would be there if a sample ended up inside the tube.”

The Perseverance group is functioning to create a response crew to evaluate the details, which include snapping near-up pictures of the borehole with the robotic arm’s WATSON (Broad Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) digital camera.

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The rover is looking at two units in the spot that contains the crater’s “deepest and most historical layers of exposed bedrock,” named the “Crater Flooring Fractured Tough” and “Séítah.”

Though the “Crater Flooring Fractured Tough” is on the crater’s ground, “Séítah” has ridges, layered rocks and sand dunes.

Perseverance Sample Tube No. 233: This image taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover on Aug. 6, shows that sample collection tube No. 233 is empty. It is one of the pieces of data sent to Earth by Perseverance showing that the rover did not collect any Martian rock during its first attempt to core a sample. 

Perseverance Sample Tube No. 233: This impression taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover on Aug. 6, demonstrates that sample collection tube No. 233 is vacant. It is one of the parts of info sent to Earth by Perseverance showing that the rover did not gather any Martian rock through its 1st attempt to main a sample. 
(Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

“The first considering is that the vacant tube is far more likely a consequence of the rock focus on not reacting the way we predicted throughout coring, and significantly less possible a hardware problem with the Sampling and Caching System,” Jennifer Trosper, task manager for Perseverance at JPL, stated. “Over the upcoming couple of days, the staff will be spending more time examining the details we have, and also obtaining some additional diagnostic facts to assist knowledge the root bring about for the vacant tube.”

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JPL noted that past NASA missions on Mars have “encountered astonishing rock and regolith homes throughout sample assortment and other pursuits.”

The agency hopes to fill up eight of its sample tubes prior to Perseverance returns to its landing web page and readies to journey to Jezero Crater’s delta location for its second science campaign.