Kicking off the Sampling Sol Path at Citadelle
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard Right Navigation Camera (Navcam). The camera is located high on the rover's mast and aids in driving. This image was acquired on Aug. 27, 2021 (Sol 185) at the local mean solar time of 13:16:09. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

This week in Jezero crater, Perseverance is hard at work carrying out sampling-related activities at the Citadelle location. On Earth, preparing for sampling is a massive undertaking and involves careful coordination across all instrument teams, scientists, and engineers; it’s a huge team effort!

As a member of the science operations team, I’ve been involved in the development of Perseverance’s sampling strategy – an effort that has been ongoing since before Perseverance landed on Mars! We’ve been developing what we refer to as the “sampling sol path,” which outlines the standardized sequence of events that we plan to carry out at each sampling location. A “sol” is a martian day, so “sol path” refers to the rover’s activities over the course of a few sols. In the case of the sampling sol path, we’re referring to all of the activities related to a sampling event, a process that takes over a week to complete on Mars. Our sampling sol path includes the following key milestones:

  1. Drive up to the intended sampling location.
  2. Perform reconnaissance observations with our scientific instruments and cameras.
  3. Use the drill to grind away the upper centimeter of the rock surface, creating an abrasion patch.
  4. Analyze the fresh rock surface inside the abrasion patch with our science instruments.
  5. Select a nearby rock target for coring.
  6. Use the drill to extract a core sample from the rock.
  7. Deliver the core (inside its sample tube) to the belly of the rover, where it goes through a complex sequence of sample assessment, imaging, hermetic sealing, and eventual storage.
  8. Wrap up our scientific observations at the sampling location including analysis of the newly drilled borehole.
  9. Drive away from our sampling site, one core sample heavier.

The sampling sol path is all about efficiency. There are a lot of activities crammed into the sol path, and the goal is to organize the path into a logical sequence that maximizes rover resources. The sol path also enables us to acquire a standard and comparable set of scientific observations so that we can consistently document each sample that we collect. Last week, our arrival at Citadelle marked the initiation of our sampling sol path. At the time of this writing, we’ve successfully created an abrasion patch on our intended rock target “Rochette,” seen in the image above. We’re well on our way towards sampling, and if all goes well over the next few sols, we’ll proceed with sample coring. Go Perseverance!

About This Blog

These blog updates are provided by self-selected Mars 2020 mission team members who love to share what Perseverance is doing with the public.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these blogs are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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  • Mariah Baker
    Planetary Scientist, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
    Washington, DC
  • Iona Brockie
    Sampling Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Sawyer Brooks
    Docking Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Adrian Brown
    Deputy Program Scientist, NASA HQ
    Washington, DC
  • Denise Buckner
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Fred Calef III
    Mapping Specialist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Alyssa Deardorff
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Kenneth Farley
    Project Scientist, Caltech
    Pasadena, CA
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Erin Gibbons
    Student Collaborator, McGill University
    Montreal, Canada
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Matt Muszynski
    Vehicle Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • David Pedersen
    Co-Investigator, PIXL Instrument, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Rick Welch
    Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
  • Roger Wiens
    Principal Investigator, SuperCam / Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument, LANL
    Los Alamos, NM

Tools on the Perseverance Rover+

The Perseverance rover has tools to study the history of its landing site, seek signs of ancient life, collect rock and soil samples, and help prepare for human exploration of Mars. The rover carries:


Where is the Rover?

Image of a rover pin-point at Perseverance's location on Mars, Jezero Crater

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