NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance got a rock sample lodged in its “throat” while collecting debris in December. The rover, which collected the sample at the end of last month, has been unable to fully process the rock.
“I recently captured my sixth rock core and have encountered a new challenge. Seems some pebble-sized debris is obstructing my robotic arm from handing off the tube for sealing/storage. More images and data to come. #SamplingMars takes perseverance,” read a statement posted to Twitter by the mission’s team members on Friday.
Perseverance is a six-wheeled, car-sized rover that is currently in the process of collecting Red Planet rock samples, of which this stuck pebble is the sixth. Problems arose when Perseverance attempted to transfer the sample, contained inside a titanium tube, into a “bit carousel,” a moving structure located on Perseverance’s chassis. It was during this pass-off that the sample got lodged in the rover’s machinery.
“The designers of the bit carousel did take into consideration the ability to continue to successfully operate with debris,” wrote Louise Jandura, chief engineer for sampling and caching at NASA’s Jet propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, in a blog post.
“However, this is the first time we are doing a debris removal, and we want to take whatever time is necessary to ensure these pebbles exit in a controlled and orderly fashion,” Jandura explained.
Images from the Perseverance rover show the effect of ancient water on Mars
A study of images from Mars shows that ancient water that once existed on the surface of Mars shaped the landscape of the planet, according to an announcement made in October.
Photographs of the Jezero crater show that the geography of the Red Planet was affected by the movement of water billions of years ago; the new evidence collected by the rover will help in the ongoing search for any evidence of life on the planet, according to the study, which was published yesterday in the journal Science.
The Perseverance rover landed in Mars’ Jezero crater back in February, beaming images of its descent all the way down to the surface of the planet and giving renewed hope to researchers who have tasked themselves with finding traces of life on the planet. The new research is a result of the study of the images it took during its first three months on the planet.
Now, because of photographs taken recently by the Rover, scientists can see just how a now-vanished river once entered into a lake, laying down sediment in the typical delta pattern that is visible from just above the planet.
Cliffs that once formed the high banks along the delta are shown in the high-resolution images; even their layers — created by sedimentation — are visible in the new photos.