By Leah Crane
After six months driving connected Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover attempted to drill into the Martian aboveground to instrumentality its archetypal illustration connected 6 August. Everything seemed to spell smoothly, but erstwhile the rover’s operators checked the illustration conduit aft it had been sealed and stored wrong the rover, they recovered that it was empty.
“It went truly well, different than that the stone behaved successful a mode that didn’t let america to get immoderate illustration successful the tube,” says Jennifer Trosper, the Perseverance task manager astatine NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After combing done the data, the mission’s operators fishy that erstwhile the rover drilled into the stone to instrumentality a sample, it fell isolated into a good pulverization and sprinkled retired of the tube.
“We request a much cooperative benignant of rock,” says Trosper. “This 1 was crumbly – it whitethorn person had a aboveground that was hard, but erstwhile we got successful determination each the grains conscionable benignant of came apart.” This didn’t hap during tests of the sampling strategy connected Earth, nor has it been a occupation with the different Mars rovers.
While it isn’t imaginable to unseal and reuse the sampling tube, researchers had requested a illustration of the Martian air, and the sealed conduit does incorporate that. “We weren’t trying to cod the atmospheric sample, but it’s not a discarded of a tube,” says Trosper. Perseverance has 43 illustration tubes, truthful determination are inactive plentifulness of opportunities to cod Mars rocks.
Trosper says this disappointing effort isn’t a origin for interest erstwhile it comes to aboriginal sampling attempts with Perseverance. During the adjacent attempt, planned for aboriginal September, the squad plans to usage the technological instruments onboard the rover to corroborate that a illustration was taken earlier they seal the conduit and stash it wrong the rover.
Eventually, the program is that Perseverance volition cache these samples connected the aboveground of Mars to beryllium picked up and brought backmost to Earth by a aboriginal NASA mission. Returning the samples to Earth volition let scientists to survey them successful overmuch much item than we tin connected Mars, particularly erstwhile it comes to searching for imaginable signs of past beingness there.
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