Tech

Mars Perseverance stops rock sample storage due to debris

The Mars Perseverance rover’s sample collection ran into a problem. Nasa reports the rover stopped caching samples after debris partially blocked the drill bit carousel (the device that stores drill bits and passes sample tubes for internal processing). The rover encountered the anomaly on December 29, but the mission team had to wait until January 6 to send a command to extract the drill, detach the robot arm from the carousel, and take pictures to verify what happened. pass.

The obstacles are believed to be pebbles which fell from the sample tube when the core bit fell, preventing this bit from staying securely in the carousel. Storage is crucial to NASA’s plans to eventually return the samples to Earth.

This is not the end of sample collection. NASA / JPL Chief Sampling Engineer Louise Jandura noted that the carousel was designed to work with debris. However, this is the first time the team has had to clean up debris, and Jandura said operators will take as much time as they need to clear rocks in “controlled and orderly fashion.”

This is not the first time that Perseverance has encountered problems. The rover did not collect samples on its first attempt, while the Ingenuity helicopter suffered a processing error on its sixth flight. All the same, it illustrates the challenges of the mission – even a seemingly innocuous task as storing a sample can go wrong under poor conditions. And when Mars is so far away, the solutions aren’t necessarily easy or certain.

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