Damn ! Perseverance has a problem with its 6th Martian rock sample

The Perseverance rover is having difficulty with its sixth rock sample from Mars. Debris the size of a pebble prevents him from sealing and storing his sample.

Although the deployment of the James Webb telescope in space attracts a lot of attention, NASA is not forgetting its other missions. Meanwhile, on December 29, 2021, its rover Perseverance managed to collect a new sample from the red planet, NASA reported on January 7.

This is his sixth collection from Martian rock (and his seventh sample collection). However, this time the robot encounters a difficulty. ” It looks like pebble-sized debris is preventing my robotic arm from transferring the tube for sealing / storage “, Can we read on the Twitter account @NASAPersevere, on which NASA makes its rover speak in first person.

Debris stuck in the rover’s sampling system. // Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS (cropped and annotated photo)

What’s wrong with this sample?

The issue arose when the drill bit, with the sample tube and sample inside, had to be moved out of the drill (which is at the end of the rover’s arm) to the carousel ( on the rover frame). Unusual resistance was recorded at this stage. Additional data and images were obtained to help the responsible team assess the situation. It took a week to receive the elements to fully understand the concern.

It was then decided to extract the drill bit and tube from the carousel, as well as detach the arm from the carousel. New images were taken, confirming that there is some debris, ” the size of a pebble », Which are housed in the carousel. According to NASA, it is likely that these were pieces of the rock that was drilled, which must have fallen from the tube when the drill bit was to be moved.

Will it be necessary to remove this debris in order to continue taking samples? For now, NASA is taking its time to see whether to evacuate them, and if so, how to go about it. ” When the engineering challenge is hundreds of millions of miles away (Mars is currently 215 million miles from Earth), it’s worth taking your time and being thorough., concludes NASA in its press release. This is what we are going to do. “

For further

The shadow of Perseverance in the Jezero crater.  // Source: Flickr / CC / Stuart Rankin (cropped photo)

Explore the red planet with the Mars 2020 mission

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