NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover has a rock-sized problem obstructing rock sample collection

Deepak Gupta January 8, 2022
Updated 2022/01/08 at 8:41 AM

NASA’s Mars rover, Perseverance, is collecting rock samples to send back to Earth via a future human mission to Mars. But some pebble-sized debris is creating problems for the machine. At first, things went well. Perseverance successfully extracted a sample from a Martian rock, called Issole. However, when transferring the sample to its storage, the rover’s sensor indicated an anomaly – a higher degree of resistance. Immediately, the rover stopped drilling and called its monitoring system on Earth, asking for further instructions. The case took place on December 29th.

The Perseverance team sought more data to understand the nature of the anomaly. A week later, they found some pebble-sized debris obstructing the proper functioning of the probe’s robotic arm.

Louise Jandura, chief sampling and caching engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in a blog post that the team is confident that this debris fell from storage while collecting the rock samples.

NASA engineers are now trying to remove the debris in an orderly fashion. As this is the first time they are doing a debris removal, they want to take as long as it takes to do it. And they’ll be evaluating the latest dataset over the weekend.

This isn’t the first curve that Mars has launched for us – just the most recent,” Jandura said.

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