Mars Perseverance rover collects new sample after cleaning pebble clog

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance retrieved a sample to replace the material stuck in his throat.

Perseverance drilled into a rock called Issole on December 29, 2021, collecting its sixth core sample since landing inside the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater last February. But the car-sized rover impossible to seal the titanium tube as intendeda problem the mission team quickly attributed to a few troublesome pebbles clogging Perseverance’s sample processing system.

Perseverance emptied the rocky core in mid-January and shook the pebbles last week. These activities paved the way for the next sample-collection effort, which the six-wheeled robot just picked up in Issole.

Related: Where to find the latest photos of Mars taken by the Perseverance rover

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover captured this photo of the recently drilled rock known as Issole using its Mastcam-Z camera system on January 29, 2022.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover captured this photo of the recently drilled rock known as Issole using its Mastcam-Z camera system on January 29, 2022. (Image credit: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover captured this image of a recently collected sample using its Mastcam-Z camera on January 31, 2022.)

“This rock almost looked surprised that I came back! Luckily I was able to collect another sample here to replace the one I threw away earlier. This may be one of the oldest rocks that I sample, so it might help us understand the history of this place #SamplingMars,” the mission team members wrote on Monday, January 31. via the official Perseverance Twitter account.

The Twitter post included photos of poor pockmarked Issole and a photo of the newly collected rock core.

Collecting such samples is one of the two primary goals of Perseverance’s mission, along with searching for signs of the past. Martian life inside Jezero. The mission team aims to eventually collect several dozen samples, which will be returned to Earth, perhaps as early as 2031, by a joint NASA-European Space Agency campaign.

Jezero is an ideal place to do such work, scientists and NASA officials said, because the crater was home to a lake and a river delta billions of years ago. Petrified remnants of this delta still exist on Jezero soil, and the mission team is eager to explore and sample these ancient pieces.

Perseverance has already started making long-range observations of the delta to help prepare for these activities, rover team member Eleni Ravanis written in a blog post Monday. But the rover won’t start heading there just yet, added Ravanis, who is a Perseverance collaborating student at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. It will first survey a nearby site known as Rimplas and may also drill some cores in the area, including Roubion, the first rock from the Red Planet that Perseverance attempted to sample. This attempt, in August 2021, failed because the rock unexpectedly crumbled into pieces when the rover broke into it.

“These decisions, like all decisions on a mission as complex and ambitious as Mars 2020, will be a compromise between the grounds (the Martian days we will spend) and the expected scientific return,” Ravanis wrote, referring to the official name of Perseverance. mission.

“We will then start a multi-[kilometer] training aimed at reaching the delta as soon as possible. Along the way, scientific observations may include surveys of the craters we pass through on our journey to the delta,” Ravanis added. “This could be particularly useful for understanding the sequence of events at Jezero Crater, which can be revealed in exhibits along the crater. walls.”

Mike Wall is the author of “The low(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.

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