NASA’s Perseverance rover deposits first sample on the surface of Mars – NASA Mars Exploration

NASA's Perseverance rover deposited the first of several samples on the Martian surface on December 21, 2022, the 653rd Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Perseverance deposits its first sample on the Martian surface: Once the Perseverance team confirmed that the first sample tube was on the surface, they positioned the WATSON camera located at the end of the rover’s robotic arm to look under the rover, verifying that the tube had not rolled into the rover’s path. . wheels Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image >

Filled with rock, the sample tube will be one of 10 that will form a pool of tubes that could be considered for a trip to Earth by the Mars Sample Return campaign.

A titanium tube containing a rock sample rests on the surface of the red planet after being placed there. December 21 by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. Over the next two months, the rover will deposit a total of 10 tubes at the site, called “Three Forks,” building humanity’s first sample repository on another planet. The deposit marks a historic first step in the Mars sample return campaign.

Perseverance has been taking duplicate samples of the rock targets the mission selects. The rover currently has the other 17 samples (including an atmospheric sample) taken so far in its belly. Based on the architecture of the Mars Sample Return campaign, the rover would deliver samples to a future robotic lander. The lander, in turn, would use a robotic arm to place the samples in a containment capsule aboard a small rocket that would blast off into Mars orbit, where another spacecraft would capture the sample container and return it safely. to the earth.

The deposit will serve as a backup if Perseverance is unable to deliver your samples. In that case, a pair of sample recovery helicopters would be called in to finish the job.

The first sample to drop was a chalk-sized core of igneous rock informally called “Malay”, which was collected on January 31, 2022, in a region of Mars’ Jezero Crater called “South Séítah”. perseverance complex System sampling and caching it took nearly an hour to retrieve the metal tube from inside the rover’s belly, see it for the last time with its insides CacheCamand drop the sample approximately 3 feet (89 centimeters) onto a carefully selected patch of the Martian surface.

Engineers use OPTIMISM, a full-size replica of NASA's Perseverance rover, to test how it will deposit its first sample tube on the Martian surface.

Testing a sample drop in the Martian courtyard: Engineers use OPTIMISM, a full-size replica of NASA’s Perseverance rover, to test how it will deposit its first sample tube on the Martian surface. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image >

But the job was not cut for the engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California, who built Perseverance and lead the mission. Once they confirmed that the tube had fallen out, the team placed the watson camera located at the end of Perseverance’s 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm to peer under the rover, checking to make sure the tube hasn’t rolled into the path of the rover’s wheels.

They also wanted to make sure the tube hadn’t landed in such a way that it was standing on its end (each tube has a flat end called a “glove” to make it easier to pick up on future missions). That happened less than 5% of the time during testing with Perseverance. earthly twin at JPL’s Mars Yard. Should it happen on Mars, the mission has written a series of commands for Perseverance to carefully hit the tube with part of the turret at the end of its robotic arm.

Engineers react with surprise as they test how NASA's Perseverance rover will deposit its sample tubes on the Martian surface.

OPTIMISM strikes the landing: Engineers react with surprise as they test how NASA’s Perseverance rover will deposit its sample tubes on the Martian surface. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image >

In the coming weeks, they will have other opportunities to see if Perseverance needs to use the technique as the rover deposits more samples in the Three Forks repository.

“Seeing our first sample on the ground is a great highlight for our primary mission period, which ends on January 6,” said Rick Welch, deputy project manager for Perseverance at JPL. “It’s a good lineup that just like we’re starting our cache, we’re also closing out this first chapter of the mission.”

More about the mission

A key goal for the Perseverance mission on Mars is astrobiology, including searching for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and store Martian rocks and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with the ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon-to-Mars exploration approach, which includes sagebrush missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more information on perseverance:

News Press Contacts

Andrew Good / D.C. Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
818-393-2433 / 818-393-9011 /

Karen Fox/Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501 /

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