NASA's rover tries to collect Mars rocks, fails
Washington, Aug 07: NASA's Perseverance rover could not collect rock samples from Mars in its first attempt to do so, the US space agency said.
The Mars rover is on a mission to collect rock samples from the Red Planet that can be studied by scientists on Earth. Samples are to be encased in tubes that would be brought back to Earth at a later date.
But the data received by scientists showed no sample was collected after the drilling process.
The rover is currently stationed on the surface of a large crater. Scientists believe the crater to be the site of a deep lake that existed 3.5 billion years ago. Researchers say it can provide clues about extraterrestrial life.
What did the rover do?
NASA released images of a small mound with a hole in its center next to the rover — the first ever dug into the planet by a robot.
The drilling process had been successful, scientists say. The engineers are now trying to discover why the rover failed to place a finger-sized rock sample in one of its titanium sample tubes.
"While this is not the 'hole-in-one' we hoped for, there is always risk with breaking new ground," NASA's Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zubuchen said in a statement.
NASA project scientist Ken Farley said the next step would be using a camera mounted on a robotic arm to inspect inside the hole. He said they might see the broken rock core, or might discover the sample had turned to sand.
"It's a bit deflating because this whole complicated piece of machinery worked fine, the engineering worked just fine, but it seems Mars didn't cooperate," Farley said.
"We will preserve," Farley added.
The whole sampling process takes up to eleven days.
What are Perserverance's tasks?
Perseverance rover is on Mars to help NASA study Martian geology and past life.
It is currently stationed on the surface of Jezero Crater. It landed on Mars in February, following its seven-months journey from Earth that saw it fly about 300 million miles (480 million kilometers) before reaching its destination.
NASA plans to bring around 30 samples back to Earth in 2030s.