In an unfortunate turn of events, the Mars Perseverance rover has hit a snag while attempting to collect its first sample of Martian rock for analysis. Data sent to Earth indicated that the sample collection tube was empty after the collection process concluded. The team at NASA responsible for overseeing the mission are currently investigating the issue to determine the best course of action moving forward with future sample collection. They plan to utilize the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera located on the rover’s arm to collect initial data about the bore site in the hopes of drawing conclusions as to why the sample was not collected. The team remains optimistic that they will find a solution and be able to move forward with the mission.
NASA has run into similar issues attempting to sample extraterrestrial matter in the past. The Phoenix mission sampled “sticky” soil that made collection and transport difficult, requiring multiple attempts before being successful. Curiosity encountered problems with Martian rock being harder and more brittle than expected. Most recently, the heat probe of the InSight lander failed to penetrate Mars’s surface as planned.
Efforts are ongoing to formulate procedures moving forward with future sampling attempts. Success will provide scientists with immeasurable information about Mars and the possibility of, not just past microbial life, but also the viability of human colonization.
To read more about this latest update from NASA, click here.
If you are interested in last week’s blog covering the Perseverance Rover, click here.
To read about Lenox Laser’s past involvement with space exploration efforts, click here.