NASA blames Mars rover sampling fiasco on bad, powdery rock

NASA made these August 2021 images available to NASA. They show the drill hole that Perseverance used for its first Mars sample collection attempt. NASA blames unusually soft rocks for last week's Mars sampling failure. After trying to collect its first core sample from Mars, the Perseverance rover failed to return to Earth. The data was transmitted on Friday, August 6, 2021. It showed that the rover had drilled to nearly 3 inches (8 cm) and photos of the borehole were clear. It quickly became apparent that the sample tube was empty. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via AP NASA blames unusually soft rocks for last week's Mars sampling disaster. After trying to collect its first core sample from the red planet, Perseverance's Perseverance rover failed to return to Earth. Last Friday's data showed that the Perseverance rover had drilled to almost 3 inches (8 cm) depth. Pictures of the borehole also looked great. It quickly became apparent that the sample tube was empty. Engineers have since determined that the rock was too weak to make a core sample. The small, powdery pieces remained in the hole, or ended up in piles, or both. The rover will now move on to the next site for sampling in its search for evidence of ancient Martian life. It should arrive there by the middle of next month. Louise Jandura (chief engineer for Perseverance’s sampling campaign), said Wednesday that the images taken by the rover with Ingenuity, its companion helicopter, showed the sedimentary rocks should be easier to sample there. Jandura posted an update online stating that "the hardware performed as commanded, but the rock didn't cooperate this time", She said, "It reminds us yet again of our nature of exploration." "No matter how prepared you are, you can never be certain of a specific result." NASA released this Tuesday, April 6, 2021 image. It shows the Perseverance Mars Rover, in the foreground, and Ingenuity helicopter, about 13 feet (3.9 meters) behind. This composite image was taken by the WASTON camera attached to the robotic arm of the rover on the 46th Martian Day, or sol. NASA's new Mars rover failed to find a rock sample on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via AP NASA plans to collect 35 samples and return them via spacecraft within a decade. This is not the first occasion that a Mars lander has encountered ground resistance. NASA's InSight lander was unable to dig more than two feet. This is a huge failure. Experimenters abandoned the project in January because the clumping soil wasn't providing enough friction for heat-measuring devices. Ingenuity, the little helicopter, continues to amaze its team. It has completed 11 test flights, with the most recent lasting over two minutes. The helicopter also conducted aerial surveys of Jezero Crater. This is the area where Perseverance and his hitchhiking helicopter landed after a seven-month-long flight from Earth. Scientists believe that the area was prime for microscopic life billions years ago, if it ever existed. Continue reading NASA Mars Rover begins to collect rock for alien life 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Without permission, this material may not be broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.