Perseverance is NASA’s primary mission on Mars. It seeks evidence of past lives. A lot of this evidence can be found deep within the Martian rocks.
Perseverance was able to drill through a small rock of briefcase size and collect a core sample for the first-ever time in its young mission. NASA’s Sept. 1 data and images confirmed the success of Perseverance’s initial coring attempt.
The whole thing starts by taking a closer look at Mars’ surface. The tools that allow you to interact with the environment include a Rock Abrasion Tool, (RAT), “a high speed grinder that uses brushes to remove the weathered outer layer and dust from the rock” and a Gaseous Dust Removal Tool, (GDRT), that clears the dust around the spot of the abrasion.
The rover has the opportunity to make use of other instruments in this first stage to study the rock more precisely. NASA engineers can use the data collected from this stage to decide whether it is worth trying to get a core sample.
The whole thing happened in August. This led to Perseverance’s attempt at coreing a Martian rock. Things didn’t go according to plan that time, as NASA explained in an Aug. 11 post.
The seven-foot long drill of the Rover’s 7-foot diameter was successful in drilling into rock. However, the images sent back to Earth revealed an empty storage tub. This revelation was only made after the tube had been sealed and kept for future retrieval. The rock was not the right candidate for coring.
The NASA team on Earth learned from previous experiences for this latest attempt. They used Mastcam-Z onboard cameras from the Perseverance Rover to take a picture of the tube, or the top, before sealing the container for future storage.
It is clear that the rock in the tube’s open end can be seen. This first view was encouraging. However, this is only the beginning of storage. After a sample has been collected, the robot will initiate a “percuss-to-ingest” procedure. This involves shaking the tube five times per second. Although the goal of this procedure is to remove any residue left on the tube’s lip, shaking the sample can send the material further down.
This appears to have been the case here. NASA’s initial shot of the tube at its open end shows that there is something within, but a second image, taken after “percussing to ingest”, shows only dark spaces.
NASA has learned from the mistakes of its first attempt at coring, but isn’t yet ready to declare this operation a success. Before the tube gets sealed off for storage, the Mastcam-Z will go to work once again “at times of day on Mars when the Sun is angled in a more favorable position.” A new set of images will hopefully offer a better view into the tube.
However, no one is expecting to fail at this stage.
Jennifer Trosper (project manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory), said that the Perseverance team had successfully cored its first rock. She said, “We accomplished what we set out to do.” This small issue with lighting in the images will be rectified and we’ll continue to believe that this tube contains some sample.
Perseverance’s samples will not be safely returned to Earth for some time. If all goes according to plan, the rover’s bounty will arrive here sometime in 2031 at the end of a three-stage “Mars Sample Return” (MSR) mission.
Publited Sat, 4 Sep 2021 at 22:56.40 +0000