As part of the Mars 2020 mission, the US space agency sent NASA the Mars rover Perseverance and the Ingenuity flying drone on the red planet. Together, the duo should help scientists on earth to discover clues to original life. At a distance of more than 56 million kilometers, however, problems can occasionally arise.
Mars rover: sensors report disruptive “anomaly”
Perseverance has already taken some rock samples from the surface of our closest neighbor. However, this does not always happen without errors. The Mars rover took a core sample of a stone at the end of December 2021. Up until then everything seemed to be going perfectly. However, when the sample was supposed to pass into the “bit carousel”, a problem arose. The carousel stores samples and forwards them to the processing equipment inside the rover. However, this process did not occur because the vehicle’s sensors detected an anomaly.
“The anomaly occurred during the ‘Coring Bit Dropoff’. This is the moment when the drill bit with the sample tube and the sample that has just been cored is guided from the hammer drill (at the end of the robot arm) into the drill carousel (located on the rover’s chassis). “
Louise Jandura, Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching at NASA / JPL
When processing previous rock samples, the drill had covered a distance of 13.1 centimeters before the sensors recorded the expected resistance. This time, however, the sensors registered a higher resistance than usual, writes Jandura. He also started about an inch earlier than expected.
Since the Mars rover was stuck on its own, it had to wait for orders from the ground crew. This in turn waited a good week for additional data that was necessary to understand the information. During this period, Perseverance was more or less still.
According to NASA, the problematic sample was taken on Thursday, January 6th.