NASA waited six months for the Perseverance rover to collect its first samples from Mars, but the US space agency will have to wait a little longer after the explorer failed during its first attempt, as the hammer drill, drill bit and sample tube processing worked as intended, but the data shows that The sample tube was empty after extraction.
According to the British newspaper, “Daily Mail”, the spacecraft carries 43 samples of titanium tubes, and is exploring the Jezero crater, where it will collect samples of rocks and regolith (broken rock and dust) for future analysis on Earth.
NASA scientists are currently analyzing the data in hopes of spotting the error and hope to gain a better understanding of what might happen in the next few weeks.
“Initial thinking is that the empty tube is most likely the result of rocks not reacting in the way we expected during drilling, and it’s less likely that there is a hardware issue with the sampling and caching system,” Jennifer Trosper, JPL Perseverance Project Manager, said in a statement. .
The space project manager added that over the next few days, the team will spend more time analyzing the data, as well as obtaining some additional diagnostic data to support understanding the root cause of the empty tube.
The Perseverance Explorer, nicknamed Perky, landed on Mars on February 18, after a 239 million-mile journey. The rover’s mission is to explore Jezero Crater, which is expected to have been a giant lake about 3 billion years ago, for signs of ancient life.
The persistence vehicle is also designed with a sampling and buffering system that uses a hollow hole and percussion drill at the end of its 7-foot robotic arm to extract samples.
Telemetry from the rover indicates that during the first drilling attempt, the auger operated as planned, and the sample tube after drilling was processed as intended, but oddly enough, the sample was not collected.