NASA says Perseverance will try to drill another Mars sample this month

Brittany A. Roston - Aug 20, 2021, 10:01pm CDT
NASA says Perseverance will try to drill another Mars sample this month

Earlier this month, NASA attempted to drill and package a sample of material from the Martian surface using its Perseverance rover. Though everything seemed to go according to plan, further evaluation revealed that the sample collection tube was empty. Now, nearly two weeks later, the space agency is back with new plans.

Perseverance will play a big role in a future mission that’ll involve shipping Mars samples back to Earth. Before that can happen, Perseverance must drill these samples and seal them in small titanium tubes that’ll be deposited on the Martian surface. At some point in the future, a different mission will retrieve the canisters and send them to Earth.

The first of these sample collection attempts took place earlier this month but didn’t work out as well as planned. The sample wasn’t successfully placed in the tube; NASA soon figured out that there was no core sample, meaning the drilling effort probably caused the sample to simply break apart into sand.

With that in mind, the space agency says its Perseverance team will move on to look for a different paver stone to drill, one that will hopefully be more compatible with the rover’s built-in drilling and sampling system. NASA has already spied “a very promising location” known as Citadelle that may prove to be a more ideal location for drilling core samples.

Though a new specific drilling target hasn’t yet been selected, the space agency said in a blog post today that it anticipates having a new sample destination in the coming days. If everything goes as planned, the next sample core drilling effort will happen sometime in the next 10 or so days.


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