NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover is preparing to collect its first samples. The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California said that the rover is looking for scientifically significant rock targets in Jezero Crater’s “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”
“Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” is one of the deepest and possibly the oldest geological units in the crater. Sampling is expected to take place in the next two weeks, as the team is looking for clues to ancient microbial life.
“When Neil Armstrong took the first sample from the Sea of Tranquility 52 years ago, he began a process that would rewrite what humanity knew about the moon,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, said in the statement. “I have every expectation that Perseverance’s first sample from Jezero Crater, and those that come after, will do the same for Mars. We are on the threshold of a new era of planetary science and discovery.”
The process starts with the 7-foot-long robotic arm of the rover, which will place the necessary tools within reach, and then conduct imaging studies so that scientists on Earth can determine the exact location of the first sample’s target. Go to the second station in the same area for “proximity science”.
Next, five of Perseverance’s science instruments will work together to “enable unprecedented analysis of geological materials at the worksite.”
SuperCam and Mastcam-Z will work with SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals), PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), and WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) provides mineral and chemical analysis of the target, captures high-resolution images, collects data, and measures the laser plume from SuperCam by spectroscopy.
After the pre-extraction, the persevering JPL members will limit their mission to one sun or one Martian day. The rest will allow the rover to fully charge its battery.
On the day of sampling, the sampling arm in the Adaptive Caching Assembly will retrieve a sampling tube, heat it, and insert it into the drill bit, and then the drill bit turntable will place the tube and drill bit into the electric hammer drill. On Perseverance’s robotic arm.
The arm will then pierce the complete geological “twin” of the rock and fill the tube with a core sample that is only a few inches long.
Finally, the robotic arm will move the drill bit and tube assembly back to the drill bit conveyor and adaptive buffering device, where the sample will be photographed, volume measured, sealed, and stored.
According to the agency, Perseverance takes about 11 days to complete your first sampling. Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18 and began its scientific phase on June 1.
In the future, the rock and weathered layer samples collected and preserved by the rover will be returned in a joint mission with ESA (European Space Agency).