Santa came early to Mars this year.
NASA agency perseverance task She dropped her first cache of precious rock samples on a sandbank Marsleaving behind a record of materials that a future mission could return to Land. It is an important moment in the search for life on MarsNASA officials said in a statement on Wednesday (December 21).
Rover’s contribution to the search for ‘ancient microbial life’ in an ancient river delta, NASA’s jet propulsion said in the update (Opens in a new tab)will include 10 titanium tubes deposited at this site, nicknamed “Three Forks”.
Sometime in the 2000s, if the timelines hold, either Perseverance or Two helicopters (Similar to the Mars Creativity helicopter currently flying She finished her flight 37 days ago) rock tubes like this one at Jezero Crater would be transported to a waiting ship.
This tube is a backup warehouse, though; Perseverance collects double samples at each location and calls its mission to make the delivery itself, using an array of stashes inside the rover. But if necessary, helicopters can be called in to pick up the spare tubes left on Mars.
However, once the tubes are delivered, their spacecraft will launch into space and deliver the samples to an orbiter awaiting return of the Martian samples to Earth. apart from a few meteorites Carved from Mars that fell to our planet, the historic cargo will mark the first time that rocks from the Red Planet have reached Earth.
One of the main ingredients for life appears in abundance on Mars, or at least was present in ancient times: water. Huge canyons, vast icebergs, and possible underwater reservoirs indicate that Mars once was Rich in water In the ancient past, despite the aridity and dusty appearance of the planet today.
But whether there is enough to support life requires a ‘ground truth’, and that’s where perseverance comes in. However, the rover can only carry so many tools with it; Sending the samples back to Earth would give entire labs the opportunity to review parts of Mars for signatures of ancient life.
The first sample that hit the regolith is roughly the size of a piece of chalk, collected from an igneous rock dubbed “the Malay” on January 31 in an area called “South Al Sitta”. South Sitta itself is important. The scientists announced weeks before they took their sample found organic mattera possible component of life, in the same area.
The car-sized Perseverance took about an hour to spit out the tube from its abdomen, where the sampling and buffering system is located. The tube fell three feet (89 cm) onto a flat spot of the Martian surface as planned, and engineers on the ground photographed the area to ensure they didn’t accidentally drive over it while Perseverance pulled away.
Pictures came back showing the tube was completely out of the way and flat, but NASA had a contingency plan in case the tube ended up upright in the sand. “The mission has written a series of commands to Persevere to carefully tap the tube against a portion of the tower at the end of its robotic arm,” agency officials wrote.
Engineers tested the tube-flattening procedure using a Perseverance-like rover inside the “Mars Arena,” an air-conditioned sandbox at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California where the machines are tested under similar conditions to the Red Planet. Straight sedimentation occurred about five percent of the time in this simulation, which is why the mission backed up.
The major drop occurs just weeks before the end of the main Perseverance mission on January 6, 2023; The two-year mission will land on Mars on February 18th. The rover will continue to roam through the mission extension, based on its scientific publications and contributions like this one to the sample return.
“It’s a good alliance that once we start our cache, we also close this first chapter of the mission,” said Rick Welch, JPL’s deputy project manager for Perseverance, in the same statement.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of “Why am I taller (Opens in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @employee (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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