It’s been almost a year since the NASA your Mars rover Perseverance landed on the surface of the red planet. Since then, the vehicle has been looking for signs of life, but it also keeps making other discoveries. Recently, however, the vehicle had to perform a maneuver that few of those involved could have imagined before.
NASA’s Mars Rover spits out rocks
On December 29, NASA faced an unforeseen obstacle. When he was supposed to stow away the rock samples he had collected, parts of them fell out of the tube into the rotating mechanism of his drilling tool. This was blocked as a result.
What then followed was a procedure that NASA had not practiced in advance and simply applied “straightforward,” as one blog post puts it. In her own words, one of the scientists involved had never imagined this. She writes:
“(…) the team began a maneuver with the robotic arm that I had never imagined performing – ever. In short, we have returned the remaining contents of Sample Tube 261 (our most recent rock sample collected) to its planet of origin.”
Jennifer Trosper, project manager at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
NASA also had a corresponding video clip via the “Percy” Twitter account. posted. It shows small chunks falling out of the Mars rover’s drill. To achieve this, it was held towards the ground and rotated at the appropriate speed. The vehicle “declares” that:
“In order to continue (running) #SamplingMars, I emptied my most recent partial sample. Watch closely to see a piece of the drilled rock fall to the ground in this film. Luckily I can reuse the tube for a new sample of the same stone.”
Not NASA’s first misdrilled hole
What looks so easy actually took several days in the end. In the first step on January 15, the stuck stone was first loosened. After a little more effort, the rest of the rock was removed on January 20th.
This was not the first incident of this kind for Perseverance. It was only in early January that an anomaly in the drill paralyzed the Mars rover. And there were also complications with his very first sample collection on the red planet. At that time, the stone collected by NASA suddenly disappeared.
Sources: NASA Mars Mission 2020, Twitter/@NASAPersevere