It took about an hour of perseverance to extract the precious tube from its belly and give it one last look before the rover gently dropped it to the ground.
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has been searching for signs of ancient microbial life for some time now. In its research, the Mars rover collects various samples, and stores them in airtight titanium tubes. Ultimately, the researchers hope to fill all of the sample tubes they’ve brought back—no less than 42 in all—with interesting samples from Mars. The plan is for the rover to eventually drop some tubes of collected samples onto the surface. And now only Perseverance dropped the first copy in a safe place.
Meanwhile, the Mars rover has taken samples from several locations in Jezero Crater, hoping to reveal more about Mars’ past. Most of these samples are from Martian rocks and one of them is a sample of the atmosphere. By the way, Perseverance has taken duplicate samples from every rock he’s examined so far, just to be on the safe side. And yet, Perseverance carried all of these in his ‘belly’.
The mission team now decided it was time to extract the first abdominal sample and leave it on the ground. This is done with a view to the future Mars sample returntask (see box).
Future Mars Sample Return Mission – Likely Not Launched Until 2028 – It promises to be a historic, but complex mission. During the mission, valuable samples collected by Perseverance will be retrieved and brought to Earth. First of all, Perseverance will take the precious samples to a future lander. The lander will in turn, using a robotic arm, place the samples in a capsule aboard a small rocket. In this way, the monsters are released and delivered to an orbital vehicle, which must finally bring them back to Earth safe and sound. The monsters are expected to reach Earth around 2033. They can then be studied using sophisticated instruments that are too large and complex to be transported to Mars. Not only will scientists hope to learn more about the early evolution of our nearest neighbour, but the samples may also reveal whether Mars was once habitable and harbored life.
Watch the key moments of NASA and the European Space Agency’s Mars Sample Return mission in this short animation. Video: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/MSFC
The first sample which Perseverance has now extracted from his stomach is the core of a piece of igneous rock, about the size of a crayon, which he has named Malay. This sample was collected by the rover on January 31, 2022 in an area of Jezero Crater called South Setah.
By the way, the process took some time. It took Perseverance nearly an hour to remove the sealed titanium tube from his abdomen and give him one last look before the rover gently dropped him to the ground. And even then the job is not done. After the mission team was able to confirm the tube was on the ground, WATSON’s camera was called in to ensure the tube didn’t roll over and end up in front of the wheels of Perseverance. But NASA brings good news. Because everything worked out! The first tube, filled with important rocks from Mars, was laid out on the red sand ready to be picked up.
Malay is the first of a total of ten tubes that Perseverance will leave on Earth. Over the next two months, Perseverance will deposit the remainder in roughly the same place, which has been dubbed “Three Forks”. The goal is to build a real “monster depot” here, the first for humanity on another planet. The warehouse represents a historic first step into the future Mars sample return-Assignment.
select or choose
The question remains whether these carefully dropped tubes will be picked up by someone or something at all. In fact, the deposit acts as a backup plan. As mentioned, Perseverance takes a double sample of each rock. The idea is that the robber is over next Mars sample returnThe mission, will take the monsters he carries in his stomach to the lander before launching them to the orbiter. However, if it turns out that the Tenacity, for one reason or another, can’t remove the monsters themselves, the Helicopters will enter the loophole and pick up the spare monsters left behind at Three Forks.
In short, the hope is that the monsters in Three Forks will never be captured. However, it’s a good thing that if something happens to the monsters that Perseverance carries in its stomach, the overall quest won’t completely collapse. Should the worst happen, there are still backup samples scattered on the floor. “Now being able to drop the first sample to Earth is an amazing result for our main mission period, which ends on January 6,” said team member Rick Welch. “We can now close the first chapter of the quest.”
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