After the first sampling failed, the persistent Mars rover is now preparing for its second attempt. The Mars stone plays this leading role.
A few weeks ago, the Perseverance team suffered a major setback. The four-wheeled robot cart succeeded Not taking a sample from the surface of Mars. Meanwhile, the team knows what went wrong. And so Perseverance is now preparing for a second – hopefully successful – attempt.
One of the main persistence missions on the red planet is to collect monsters. The robotic cart does this using an advanced drill and chisel attached to the end of its two-meter-long robotic arm. In total, Perseverance holds at least 43 samples of titanium tubes that it will fill with Martian rocks and regolith. Then, Perseverance will prepare these sealed flasks to return to Earth for further analysis during a future sample return mission.
During the first sampling attempt, Perseverance targeted rocks from an area in the Jezero Crater known as the “Crater Floor Fractured Rough.” This is where Jezero’s deepest (and oldest) exposed rock layers and other interesting geological features can be found. Unfortunately, the first samples were not taken exactly according to plan. The data that Perseverance sent back to Earth showed that the sample tube it had brought with it remained empty. With this, the first tenacity test of the Mars rover unfortunately failed.
This has gone wrong
The persistence team then collected and studied new data in depth. They also looked at camera images produced by WATSON – located at the end of the robot’s arm. In the end, the researchers were able to figure out the problem. The rock that Perseverance wanted to sample turned out to be very crumbly. The rocks instantly disintegrate into fine-grained powder and dust, making it impossible to store in a sample tube. Although the crushed rock could not be collected during the first sampling attempt, this sample tube now contains a sample of the Martian atmosphere.
Sure enough, the intention is that perseverance basically collects rock monsters. And so the Perseverance team is now preparing for the second attempt. Meanwhile, the robot car continued its way into a mountain ridge, some 455 meters away. He called this hillside “Castle”, which means “castle” in French; An indication of how this steep spot looks out over the bottom of the Jezero Crater. The rim is covered with a layer of rock that appears to resist wind erosion, a sign that the shale is likely to hold up during excavation.
Perseverance is now preparing for its second ascent attempt. This week, the rover will scrape its six-foot robotic arm off the surface of a rock called Rochette. In this way, persistence eliminates the upper layer, so to speak, giving scientists a better view of the lower layers. Then they can decide if they want to take a sample. If the team decides to collect a sample, a second sampling will be attempted next week.
To make sure this second attempt had a more successful outcome, the researchers added an extra step. After the rover uses its Mastcam-Z camera system to look inside the sample tube, the rover pauses for sampling. The team can then use this time to review the photos to make sure the rocks have been collected. Once confirmed, they will instruct the perseverance to close the sample tube.
Why would the researchers at Citadelle want to collect a sample? “It is likely that there are ancient rocks in the South Sittah area,” explains researcher Vivian Sun. “Collecting a smaller sample first can help us correctly reconstruct the complete timeline of Jezero.” Eventually, the researchers hope to fill all the tube samples they bring with them with interesting samples from Mars. “By bringing it back to Earth, we hope to answer some scientific questions,” said researcher Ken Farley. “For example, we also hope to know the composition of the atmosphere of Mars. That is why – in addition to rock samples – we are also interested in atmospheric samples.” Thus the first “failed” attempt at sampling – which, as mentioned, involved a sample of the atmosphere. For Mars – not completely wasted.
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