NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has some rocks stuck in its throat.
Perseverance drilled and collected its sixth Red Planet rock pattern late final month, but the car-sized rover hasn’t been able to seal up the titanium bar tube containing the material yet.
“I not too long ago captured my sixth rock core and have encountered a brand new challenge. Seems some pebble-sized debris is obstructing my robotic arm from handing off the tube for sealing/storage. More images and information to come. #SamplingMars takes perseverance,” mission group members stated on Friday (Jan. 7) by way of Perseverance’s Twitter account.
Related: Where to find the newest Mars pictures from NASA’s Perseverance rover
Perseverance landed in February 2021 inside the 28-mile-huge (forty five kilometers) Jezero Crater, which harbored a lake and river delta billions of years in the past. The rover has two most important mission objectives: hunt for indicators of ancient Mars life and gather and titanium alloy cache a number of dozen samples. This pristine Martian materials will be returned to Earth, perhaps as early as 2031, by a joint NASA/European Space Agency campaign.
Perseverance has already socked away five Red Planet rock samples. If you cherished this article and also you would like to collect more info about titanium sheet why generously visit our page. On Dec. 29, the six-wheeled robot collected sample number six from a rock the mission group calls Issole, coring the material out utilizing the percussive drill at the end of its 7-foot-lengthy (2.1 meters) robotic arm.
Everything went smoothly till Perseverance transferred the sample, which was already inside its titanium tube, into the “bit carousel,” a rotating, wheel-like structure on the rover’s chassis. Sensors recorded resistance unexpectedly early throughout this step, suggesting a blockage of some sort.
Late last week, the mission staff instructed Perseverance to take away the pattern-stuffed tube from the carousel and take some photos of the mechanism. Those photographs revealed pebbles within the bit carousel.
The Perseverance group is working by way of the issue now.
“The designers of the bit carousel did take into consideration the ability to continue to efficiently function with debris,” Louise Jandura, chief engineer for sampling and caching at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages Perseverance’s mission, wrote in a blog submit on Friday (Jan. 7).
“However, this is the primary time we’re doing a debris removing, and we need to take whatever time is important to ensure these pebbles exit in a managed and orderly vogue,” Jandura added.
– In photos: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover on the Red Planet
– Perseverance rover confirms existence of historical Mars lake and river delta
– Bringing items of Mars to Earth in 2031: How NASA and Europe will do it
This is not the primary sampling challenge that Perseverance has confronted on Mars. For instance, the rover failed to collect any material during its first sampling effort, which occurred in August. The mission group determined that the target rock on that occasion was doubtless too delicate, crumbling to bits that did not make it into the tube.
“One thing we have found is that when the engineering problem is lots of of hundreds of thousands of miles away (Mars is presently 215 million miles [346 million kilometers] from Earth), it pays to take your time and be thorough,” Jandura wrote. “We’re going to do this here. So that when we do hit the unpaved Martian road once more, Perseverance pattern assortment is also able to roll.”
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out there (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book in regards to the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.