Later Failed last month, NASA’s Perseverance Rover has successfully drilled, extracted and stored Martian rock samples-this is the first Martian sample destined to fly back to Earth for research in history.
“This is a major achievement,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
When the rover first attempted to maneuver on August 6, the rock it was trying to sample was broken into powder before being made into a sample tube. The second attempt took place on September 1 at several locations hundreds of meters away, and it went smoothly; the drill bit pulled a slender cylinder from a 70-centimeter-long rock named Rochette. The engineers then paused the process so that they could photograph the core in the sample tube to make sure it was intact, and then sealed the sample inside a few days later on September 6.
The core of the Rochette is now located in the belly of Perseverance, sealed and ready to wait for many years until a future spacecraft can retrieve it and any other cores that the rover manages to collect. The goal is to collect about 35 cores, which represent the geological history of Perseverance’s landing site Jezero Crater-where the river delta was located billions of years ago. May contain evidence of ancient Martian life.
How Rochette fits into this history is unclear. This rock comes from an area called Citadelle (French fortress) by mission scientists because it stands high on the ridgeline, like a castle overlooking a valley. Some rocks along this ridge line show geologically interesting layers; these layers may have been deposited by wind, water, volcanic eruptions, or other processes.
Kenneth Farley, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said that early investigations of the rover indicated that Rochette is a type of rock called basalt, which may be the ancient ridge that forms the Perseverance’s mooring. Part of the lava flow. And mission project scientist. Rochette shows red patches and stains, and small holes full of salt, all of which indicate that it interacted with water over a period of time—perhaps at the bottom of an ancient lake that was once filled with Jezero.
It turns out that Rochette is a better hole than the rock that the rover tried to sample for the first time-a rock called Rubien, located elsewhere at the bottom of the crater. Roubian also showed signs of interacting with water a long time ago, but in that case, the water seemed to weaken the physical strength of the rock, because when Perseverance hit the drill bit, the rock turned into dust. Farley said the rover may try to drill into another rock similar to Roubion later in its mission, if it can find a rock that looks stronger.
If further research confirms that Rochette is basalt, it will be scientifically exciting, because once it returns to Earth, researchers can use the decay of radioactive elements in the rock to accurately determine the time of its formation-which was impossible before. Because no rock has ever been brought back from Mars.
NASA’s previous Mars rover, Curiosity, landed in another crater in 2012 and accidentally encountered rocks that were difficult to drill—the opposite of the original problem of perseverance. The 2008 Mars lander Phoenix had trouble collecting dust particles until mission managers discovered that the dust needed to be protected from direct sunlight to prevent the ice between the particles from melting, re-freezing, and bonding them together. “Mars is a real planet, full of surprises,” said Raymond Arvidson, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, who has participated in many Mars rover missions, but not Perseverance.
Now Perseverance is under pressure to start collecting cores more effectively.it Landed in Jezero in February, So it took more than six months to collect the first sample. It should collect the first set of cores from the crater within a year of landing on Mars (slightly less than two Earth years). Since the rover landed a little more than 2 kilometers from the Furukawa Delta of its main sampling target, Jezero, it may not even reach that formation until early next year.
But Averson said that so far, he is not worried about the speed of the mission.Among other things, the first three months are used for Test and pilot a micro helicopter, So far, it has carried out more than a dozen flights, and is helping mission scientists choose interesting travel directions for the rover. The rover itself traveled 2.17 kilometers south and west from the landing site to survey the terrain and conduct experiments that do not involve drilling, such as using ground penetrating radar to detect below the surface of the planet.
After successfully collecting samples, Perseverance will drive several hundred meters northwest into an area called South Seítah, where there are dunes, ridges and other rocks and boulders everywhere. Mission planners will soon have a short break, from October 2 to October 14, when they will not be able to communicate with the rover because Mars will move behind the sun relative to the earth.
NASA and the European Space Agency are planning a complex set of future robotic missions that will go to Jezero to collect samples collected by Perseverance and fly them back to Earth for scientists to study. The sample will reach Earth in at least 2031.
This article is reproduced with authorization and has been First published September 7, 2021.