NASA May Have Solved The Weird Mystery of Perseverance’s Missing Rock Sample

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The rover tried to gather its first core final week, however its tube got here out empty. There was a finger-size gap within the rock the place the pattern ought to have come out, together with a pile of “cuttings” from the drill across the gap. However there was no pattern wherever in sight.

 

After analyzing information and photographs from the rover for a number of days, NASA’s Perseverance crew decided that the rock almost definitely crumbled into powder or “small fragments”.

“It seems that the rock was not strong sufficient to supply a core,” Louise Jandura, chief engineer for the sampling system, mentioned in a NASA weblog publish on Wednesday. “The fabric from the specified core is probably going both within the backside of the opening, within the cuttings pile, or some mixture of each.”

The hole Perseverance drilled into a Mars rock, 7 August 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)The opening Perseverance drilled right into a Mars rock, 7 August 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

So now the crew is planning to ship Perseverance to a distinct spot, a sandy space known as Seitah, the place they’re going to select a distinct sort of rock to pattern that must be stronger. That historical lake sediment ought to extra carefully resemble the rocks the crew used to check Perseverance’s instruments on Earth. NASA goals to strive coring a brand new rock subsequent month.

“The {hardware} carried out as commanded however the rock didn’t cooperate this time. It jogs my memory but once more of the character of exploration,” Jandura wrote within the weblog. “A selected result’s by no means assured regardless of how a lot you put together.”

 

The failed first try wasn’t a technical failure; Perseverance seems to have executed all the things it was speculated to. It used an abrasion instrument to clear away mud and floor coatings from its goal: a rock in an historical Mars lake mattress that might have as soon as held alien life.

Then the rover prolonged its 7-foot (2 metre)-long arm, which has a sample-collection instrument on the tip. This instrument makes use of a percussive drill to push a hole coring bit into the rock, and that drill went in as deliberate. The tube simply got here up empty.

Perseverance sample-collection arm. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)Perseverance sample-collection arm. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Nonetheless, that tube is one in all 43 that Perseverance is carrying. They’re the cornerstone of the rover’s principal mission on Mars – to discover a area known as Jezero Crater and collect samples

NASA has already spent 9 years and about US$2 billion in its quest to drill and retailer samples of Martian rocks. In a couple of decade, it plans to ship one other mission to Mars to retrieve the samples and produce them again to Earth. Then scientists can examine whether or not microbial life could have lived within the lake that when crammed Jezero Crater.

In different phrases, a major quantity of planning and cash is using on these samples. That is partially why the previous couple of days have been “a rollercoaster of feelings,” based on Jandura.

This text was initially revealed by Business Insider.

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