- NASA’s Persistence Team Confirms a Second Rock Sample Has Been Captured
- Perseverance’s target was a briefcase-sized boulder that NASA nicknamed ‘Rochet’
- It was derived from a ridgeline half a mile (900 m) long in the crater.
- The latest sample was captured on Thursday by an SUV-sized rover, drilling in the same large boulder that produced the first sample last week, NASA said.
NASA’s Perseverance rover has collected its second sample of Martian rock in its mission to find signs of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
The team tweeted on the Persistence account: ‘I have successfully processed and stored my second sample of Mars, thus making my total of two Martian rock cores in one week.’
The latest sample was captured on Thursday by an SUV-sized rover, drilling in the same large boulder that delivered the first sample last week.
All these samples are enclosed in a titanium tube that will be left for NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to collect in the future.
A similar attempt to collect a sample of Martian rock earlier this month did not last because the rock was too crumbly to withstand the robot’s drill.
Rover 43 carries a titanium sample tube, and is exploring Jezero Crater, where it will collect rock and soil samples for future analysis on Earth.
The latest sample was captured on Thursday by an SUV-sized rover, drilling into the same large boulder that produced the first sample last week – seen by two holes.
The team tweeted: ‘I have successfully processed and stored my second sample of Mars, thus making my total of two Mars rock cores in one week’
Rover’s first attempt fails due to powder rock
The agency revealed on August 6 that NASA’s Persistence rover failed during its first attempt to collect a core of Martian rock.
The percussive drill, coring bit and sample tube processing all worked as intended, but the data showed that the sample tube was empty after extraction.
Jennifer Trosper, project manager for Perseverance at JPL, said in a statement: ‘The initial thinking is that the empty tube is more likely the rock target not reacting the way we expected during coring, and a hardware problem. probability is low. sampling and caching system.’
A few days later, NASA revealed that the rock at this particular location was unusually soft and powdery, which is why the operation was not successful.
The target of the fixture was a briefcase-sized rock nicknamed ‘Rochet’, which is half a mile (900 m) long.
“The team determined a location, and selected and cored a viable and scientifically valuable rock,” said project manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
On 6 August, the fixture was drilled into a very soft rock, and the sample broke off and was not found inside the titanium tube.
The rover drove a half-mile to a better sampling location to try again, and this is the second sample from the same rock.
Perseverance touched down on Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18 after a nearly seven-month journey through space—which was thought to be home to a lush lake and river delta billions of years ago.
It is tasked with finding traces of fossil microbial life from Mars’ ancient past and collecting rock samples to be returned to Earth through future missions to the Red Planet.
The rover’s turret-mounted scientific instruments are able to determine the chemical and mineral composition and look for organic material, as well as better characterize the planet’s geological processes.
It uses a drill and a hollow coring bit at the end of its 7-foot-long (2 m long) robotic arm to extract samples slightly thicker than a pencil, which it holds under its abdomen. .
All of these samples are placed in a titanium tube that will be discarded for future missions to be collected by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) in the future.
Perseverance touched down on Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18 after a nearly seven-month journey through space—which was thought to be home to a lush lakebed and river delta billions of years ago.
NASA is planning a mission in the 2030s to return about 30 samples to Earth, where scientists will be able to conduct more detailed analyzes that can confirm there was microbial life.
However, Persistence itself isn’t bringing the samples back to Earth—when the rover reaches a suitable location, the tube will be dropped onto the surface of Mars to be collected by a future recovery mission, which is currently being developed. Is.
Currently, NASA and ESA are planning to launch two more spacecraft that will leave Earth in 2026 and reach Mars in 2028.
The first would deploy a small rover, which would make its way to Perseverance, pick up the loaded sampling tubes and transfer them to a ‘Mars Ascent Vehicle’ – a small rocket.
A multi-billion dollar project to bring a piece of Mars back to Earth would involve three separate launches and would only be successful until 2031.
The rocket will explode in the process of becoming the first object launched from the surface of Mars and will place the container into Martian orbit, meaning it will essentially be floating in space.
At this point, the third and final spacecraft involved in the tricky operation will maneuver itself next to the sample container, lift it and fly it back to Earth.
Provided its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere is successful, it will hit the ground at a military training ground in Utah in 2031, meaning samples from Mars will not be studied for another 10 years.
Perseverance made the trip to Mars equipped with a detachable 4-pound (1.8-kg) robotic helicopter called Ingenuity.
The copter is performing a series of flights of increasing complexity over the Red Planet, starting with its maiden flight on April 19.
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