NASA's Mars Rover Captures Breathtaking Photo Of Martian Ridge

 
Photo via NASA/JPL
 

 

Having identified what went wrong during the Perseverance rover’s first attempt to collect a Martian rock sample, NASA has put together a new set of procedures to make sure the collected samples are stable enough to be examined by the rover. After landing on Mars on Feb. 18, the Perseverance rover’s mission on Mars is to look for signs of microbial life on the surface while collecting dozens of rock samples from the planet's surface. Alongside the rover, NASA is also operating a small helicopter, Ingenuity.

After performed several flights, the Ingenuity helicopter's last excursion saw the tiny copter capturing images of terrain on the Perseverance’s path. Using the images captured by Ingenuity, the Perseverance team can map a course for the rover that will allow it to move around dangerous terrain on its mission to collect samples from Mars’ surface. The first attempt to retrieve a sample was not successful because the rock was destroyed when the rover attempted to collect a core sample. So after 12 days of figuring out just what exactly went wrong, NASA has given an update on how the Perseverance team plans to move forward.

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On the Mars 2020 mission blog, The team started its first goal moving forward is to collect “a more resistant rock” for the rover to collect. The team plans to take the rover to a nearby region of Mars named “Citadelle” to find an appropriate sample. While the procedures involved in collecting a sample are the same, the team has added a “ground in the loop session” where they will review the images of the tube to confirm a usable rock sample was collected before transferring the sample into the rover for processing. If the images show no sample is in the tube, the team can then try to collect another almost immediately.

What's Next For Perseverance?

 

 

Photo via NASA/JPL

 

 

 

As the rover moves to the Citadelle region, It will take the team a few days to find and select an appropriate sample for Perseverance to try and collect. Once the sample has been selected, the team will begin the second coring attempt. If the next attempt to collect a sample of Martian rock does not yield favorable results, the team has “additional knobs” they can turn to adjust the collection process further.

As the team operating Perseverance looks to get a usable sample, it should be noted that the surface of Mars does not play nice. However, the new procedures should make it easier for the team to rebound from failed coring attempts in the future. And even if Perseverance fails to grab the right rock this time around, at least the rover is capturing some really beautiful landscapes.

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