NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover will brade the rock in the middle of this image. This will allow engineers and scientists to evaluate whether the rock would withstand the more powerful sampling drill. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Perseverance Rover is again in the process of collecting rock core samples to be used for further research on Mars.
A tool that is 7 feet (2 meters) long and 2 meters in length will be used by the robotic arm of the rover to remove the rock's surface. This will allow scientists to examine the inside and decide if they wish to take a sample using the coring bit. The sample will be slightly thicker than a pencil and sealed in one the remaining 42 titanium tubes on the rover.
If the team decides to obtain a core from the rock, then the sampling process would begin next week.
The mission tried to capture the first record of the crater's floor on Aug. 6. However, the rock was too crumbly to retain in the tube.
Close-up of Rochette rock. Perseverance science team will inspect it to determine if they should take a core from it. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Perseverance led to 1,493 feet (455m) of climbing to a ridge called "Citadelle"French meaning "castle", referring to the way this craggy spot overlooks Jezero Crater’s floor. A layer of rock topped the ridge that seems to resist wind erosion is a sign it is more likely to withstand drilling.
Vivian Sun, one the scientists involved in the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Southern California, stated that "there are potentially older rocks within the 'South Stah" region ahead of us. Having this younger sample could help us reconstruct Jezero's timeline."
For this next attempt, the team added an additional step to the sampling process: After using the MastcamZ camera system to look inside the tube, the rover will stop the sampling sequence to allow the team to review the image and confirm that a rock core was present. After confirming the sample, Perseverance will seal it.
Although the pulverized rocks were not captured in the initial sample acquisition effort, the first tube still contained a sample of Martian atmosphere that the mission had originally intended to acquire at a later date.
"By sending samples back to Earth, we hope that we can answer a lot of scientific questions including the composition Mars' atmosphere," stated Ken Farley (Perseverance's project scientist at Caltech, Pasadena. "That's why we are interested in an atmospheric sample as well as rock samples.
Perseverance, who is atop Citadelle will use its subsurface radar (called RIMFAXshortfor Radar Imager For Mars' Subsurface Exploment)to view the rock layers below. MastcamZ-Z will have a great vantage point at the top of the ridge to search for potential rock targets.
Perseverance's Mars mission is focused on astrobiology. This includes the search for evidence of ancient microbial activity. The mission will provide information about Mars' past climate and geology, as well as a platform for humans to explore the Red Planet. It will also collect and preserve Martian rock and regolith, which is broken rock and dust.
In cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), NASA would continue to send spacecraft to Mars to collect the sealed samples and return them to Earth.
Mars Rover comes up empty on 1st attempt at getting rock samples
More information: For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/ and nasa.gov/perseverance