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NASA Mars rover set to dump out a rock sample, something the team ‘never imagined’

See ya later on, crumbly Mars rock sample.


This tale is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

Troubleshooting is a key ability for any workforce that operates with robots on Mars, mainly because the planet will mess with your robots. NASA’s Perseverance rover group is doing work out how to deal with a difficulty with some pebbles obtaining in the way of its rock sampling method. But very first, the rover is earning a surprise shift by dumping the sample it is really gathered onto the floor.

Perseverance drilled and extracted the sample from a rock nicknamed Issole in late December, but was not in a position to finish the handoff of the sample tube from the robotic arm into the bit carousel, a element that passes the tube into the rover for processing. The culprit is a group of little pebbles, which have to have to be cleared out. It’s not as uncomplicated as just inquiring the rover to shake off like a moist pet. NASA is now embarking on a multi-action plan to take care of it.

Initial, the rover took a very good glance at the floor beneath it so it would be able to watch for alterations when it dislodges the offending pebbles. Subsequent up is a maneuver for the robotic arm. “Simply put, we are returning the remaining contents of Sample Tube 261 (our most current cored-rock sample) again to its planet of origin,” wrote undertaking manager Jennifer Trosper in a rover update on Friday. Trosper explained it as some thing “I never ever imagined we would conduct — at any time.”

The workforce expects dumping out the contents will be fairly easy, involving pointing the open close at the floor and allowing gravity choose around. 

The rover is geared up with a established of sample tubes that permit it to stash away bits of Mars NASA hopes to deliver again to Earth with a foreseeable future mission. The samples are treasured cargo, which is why the strategy of dumping one particular would seem so odd. But NASA is not sure how a great deal rock is nevertheless in the sample tube. If the team is able to distinct the pebble obstruction, the rover might try out to sample Issole a second time to get a additional finish chunk of the rock.

The Perseverance rover took a great glimpse at the floor so the group will be in a position to location any pebbles it drops.


The future measures will concentration on the pesky pebbles. NASA is commanding the rover to conduct some rotation checks of its bit carousel. “Our anticipations are that these rotations — and any subsequent pebble motion – will assist information our staff, furnishing them the required facts on how to progress,” Trosper claimed.

NASA need to know by early next 7 days what impact the carousel movements had on the pebbles. 

Every NASA rover has run into difficulties on Mars, from wheel don to rocks that will not behave. Intelligent and mindful options have aided keep missions likely, so it can be most likely the pebbles is not going to hinder Perseverance’s function for also prolonged.

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