January 22, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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NASA’s Mars rover has shut down its rock sampling system

This January 7 image shows debris obscuring a small pie on NASA’s Perseverance rover.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

It’s part of the story Welcome to Mars, our series is exploring the red planet.

Mars has not been kind to our robotic explorers. this is bury them in dustAnd They rough their wheels a Play with their achievementAnd now it presents a new challenge to NASA’s persistence. Some stone-sized fragments interfere with the rock sampling system.

At first, everything went smoothly. On December 29, Perseverance dug into a rock called Isol and extracted a sample from it. “However, while transferring the sample bit to the roving bit carousel (which stores the bits and passes the tube to the tube-processing device inside the rover), our sensor indicated an anomaly,” Louis Gondor. he wrote, chief engineer for sampling and buffering, in a blog post on Friday.

Rover halted its collection activities after discovering unusual resistance during the collection process. As the Rover team said in a tweet on FridayAs a result, the fragments prevent the rover’s robotic arm from properly connecting the sample-filled tube for sealing and storage.

Perseverance is the first rover to attempt to collect Mars samples in sealed tubes. It’s an important part of the mission, which is also looking for signs of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet. NASA plans to send an ambitious The future task of collecting samples and return them to Earth for study.

The rover pulled a drill and a pipe and ordered the machine to back off. I took some pictures to help diagnose the problem. Gandora wrote: “These recent pictures of the downlink confirm the presence of some bits of stone debris within the cut circle.” NASA expects stones to fall from the test tube.

Although the wreck is a challenge, there is no reason to panic just yet. Jandura said Bit Carousel’s designers have considered the option, but that it will take some time to come up with a solution that allows Pebble to “perform in a controlled and orderly manner.”

NASA has proven adept at handling the red planet’s tantrums. The persistence team plans to move forward slowly to ensure that the sampling system is clear and ready to operate in the future.

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