Last week, the Perseverance rover embarked on one of its most important missions since arriving on Mars: collecting the first bit of Martian rock. The mission was a failure, as the part in question disappeared without a trace. NASA is now investigating what went wrong.
By taking rock samples from Mars, NASA scientists expect to learn more about the Red Planet. But before it can be analyzed on Earth, it must be collected on Mars. And NASA reported that the first attempt failed last Friday.
“This is not the outcome we expected, and there is always a risk when we embark on unprecedented exploration,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s director of science, said in a statement Friday. “I am confident we have the right team for the task and will persevere in finding a solution to ensure future success.”
It will take some time to analyze this failed attempt, but NASA scientists have already discovered some of the elements. And they do not bode well.
Nothing in the tube, nothing in the hole, nothing around
NASA uses perseverance to take pictures of where everything has gone wrong in recent days. A quick analysis reveals that the rover did what it was told, without making any mistakes. The robot dug a hole in the surface of Mars as it should.
Persevere at first used a sander to remove dust and dirt from the rocks. The rover then extended its 2.5-meter-long arm, with a sample-collecting instrument at the end. This tool uses a percussion drill to create a hollow core in the rock, he writes interested in trade.
Despite this ostensibly perfect implementation, the sample tube remained empty. Most surprisingly, the rocks collected from the crater did not appear to have fallen back into or next to the crater. The monster cannot be seen anywhere.
“The first idea is that the empty tube is more likely due to the rock not responding as we expected during drilling, and less likely for a hardware problem in the Sampling and buffering systemJennifer Trosper, director of the Perseverance Project, said in a statement. “Over the next few days, the team will spend more time analyzing the data we have, as well as collecting additional diagnostic data to help understand the root cause of the empty tube.”
In total, Perseverance contains 43 tubes that must be filled with Martian rock. When the rover finally collects the necessary monsters, another mission will capture the monsters and bring them back to Earth. Then NASA studies it.
These samples should provide valuable information about the chemical and mineral composition of the rocks on the Red Planet. The goal is to find out if it is volcanic or sedimentary. They may also be able to provide clues about whether there is life on Mars.