NASA Perseverance Mars rover has crud obstructing its rock pattern system

This picture from Jan. 7 reveals the particles obstructing the bit carousel on NASA’s Perseverance rover.


This story is a part of Welcome to Mars, our collection exploring the crimson planet.

Mars doesn’t take kindly to our robotic explorers. It chokes them with mud, roughs up their wheels and messes with their probes, and now it is throwing a brand new problem at NASA’s Perseverance rover. There’s some pebble-size particles getting in the best way of the machine’s rock pattern assortment system.

Every little thing went easily at first. On Dec. 29, Perseverance drilled right into a rock nicknamed Issole and extracted a pattern of it. “Nonetheless, throughout the switch of the bit that accommodates the pattern into the rover’s bit carousel (which shops bits and passes tubes to the tube processing {hardware} contained in the rover), our sensors indicated an anomaly,” wrote Louise Jandura, chief engineer for sampling and caching, in a weblog submit on Friday.

The rover halted its sampling actions when it met uncommon resistance throughout the strategy of stowing the pattern. Because the rover crew expressed in a tweet on Friday, the upshot is the particles is stopping the rover’s robotic arm from correctly handing off the sample-filled tube for sealing and storage. 

Perseverance is the primary rover to try to gather samples of Mars in sealed tubes. It is a key a part of a mission that is additionally looking for out indicators of historical microbial life on the crimson planet. NASA is planning to ship an bold future mission to select up the samples and produce them again to Earth for examine. 

The rover crew commanded the machine to backtrack by pulling out the drill bit and tube. It snapped some photographs alongside the best way to assist diagnose the issue. “These most up-to-date downlinked photographs affirm that contained in the bit carousel there are a number of items of pebble-sized particles,” Jandura wrote. NASA expects the pebbles fell out of the pattern tube.

Whereas the particles presents a problem, there isn’t any purpose to stress but. Jandura mentioned the designers of the bit carousel have thought-about this chance, however that it’s going to take time to work by way of an answer that permits the pebbles to “exit in a managed and orderly trend.”

NASA has confirmed resourceful in terms of working by way of the crimson planet’s mood tantrums. The Perseverance crew plans to take this one gradual to make sure the sampling system is obvious and able to go for future work. 

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