NASA’s 1st strive to receive Mars samples with Perseverance rover comes up empty

NASA’s 1st strive to receive Mars samples with Perseverance rover comes up empty

This image taken by one the hazard cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover on Aug. 6, 2021, shows the hole drilled in what the rover science team calls a “paver rock” in preparation for the mission’s first attempt to collect a sample from Mars.

This describe taken by one the hazard cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover on Aug. 6, 2021, reveals the gap drilled in what the rover science crew calls a “paver rock” in preparation for the mission’s first strive to receive a sample from Mars.
(Image credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Perseverance rover’s first sample-snagging strive did not trot in accordance with belief.

The auto-sized Perseverance landed contained in the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater this previous February with two main duties: to hunt for indicators of previous Mars lifestyles and to receive and cache samples for future return to Earth.

The NASA rover drilled its first sample-amassing gap on Friday (Aug. 6), a prime milestone for the $2.7 billion mission. But files beamed again to Earth by Perseverance point to that no Mars rock or grime made it into the sampling tube, NASA officers presented on Friday afternoon.

“Whereas right here is not the ‘gap in one’ we hoped for, there would possibly per chance be repeatedly possibility with breaking contemporary ground,” Thomas Zurbuchen, accomplice administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, acknowledged in a commentary. (Perseverance’s mission is the first step in a Mars sample-return campaign, which has never been done sooner than.)

“I am confident we now comprise got the enticing crew working this, and we can persevere toward a resolution to make sure future success,” Zurbuchen added.

Connected: The put to win presumably the most contemporary Mars photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover

As these phrases imply, this wasn’t a compose-or-atomize moment for Perseverance; the rover carries 43 sampling tubes. The mission belief requires Perseverance to have a minimal of 20 of them with fabric extracted from holes it bores into Martian rock with the percussive drill at the tip of its 7-foot-long (2.1 meters) robotic arm. 

Knowledge obtained from Perseverance point to that the drill, which has a gap coring bit, labored as supposed, and that processing of the sample tube looked to be fashioned moreover, NASA officers acknowledged.

“The sampling route of is self ample from beginning to total,” Perseverance surface mission supervisor Jessica Samuels, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, acknowledged in the similar commentary. “One of the steps that occurs after placing a probe into the sequence tube is to measure the quantity of the sample. The probe did not bump into the anticipated resistance that would possibly per chance well be there if a sample had been contained in the tube.”

This final outcome — a efficiently drilled gap but an empty tube — become as soon as never encountered in the course of tests of the sampling system on Earth, the Perseverance crew acknowledged throughout the rover’s official Twitter checklist

“The preliminary thinking is that the empty tube is extra possible a outcome of the rock target not reacting the style we anticipated in the course of coring, and not more possible a hardware difficulty with the Sampling and Caching System,” Perseverance challenge supervisor Jennifer Trosper, moreover of JPL, acknowledged in the similar commentary. “Over the subsequent few days, the crew will possible be spending extra time analyzing the guidelines we now comprise got and moreover acquiring some additional diagnostic files to purple meat up knowing the muse arrangement off for the empty tube.”

That additional files will embody detailed photos of the borehole, which Perseverance will want with the WATSON (Large Perspective Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering) digicam at the tip of its arm, NASA officers acknowledged.

There’s about a precedent for unexpected rock or grime properties throwing roadblocks up for Mars robots. Perseverance’s older cousin Curiosity, as an instance, has drilled into rocks that proved to be a good deal extra difficult or extra brittle than mission crew members had anticipated. And the burrowing heat probe on NASA’s InSight Mars lander did not dig practically as deeply as deliberate, possible stymied by weirdly dusty but cohesive grime.

“I had been on every Mars rover mission for the explanation that origin, and this planet is repeatedly teaching us what we do not learn about it,” Trosper acknowledged. “One factor I’ve found is, it be not unfamiliar to comprise problems in the course of complicated, first-time activities.”

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Colossal Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book about the quest for for alien lifestyles. Discover him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Discover us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

Mike Wall

SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for since 2010. His e book about the quest for for alien lifestyles, “Out There,” become as soon as revealed on Nov. 13, 2018. Earlier than becoming a science author, Michael labored as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the College of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor’s level from the College of Arizona, and a graduate certificates in science writing from the College of California, Santa Cruz. To search out out what his most contemporary challenge is, you presumably can put together Michael on Twitter. 

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