BLOGMARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER


Assessing Perseverance's Seventh Sample Collection
Debris in Perseverance's Bit Carousel: Pebble-sized debris can be seen in the bit carousel of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover in this Jan. 7, 2022, image. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

On Wednesday, Dec. 29 (sol 306) Perseverance successfully cored and extracted a sample from a Mars rock. Data downlinked after the sampling indicates that coring of the rock the science team nicknamed Issole went smoothly. However, during the transfer of the bit that contains the sample into the rover’s bit carousel (which stores bits and passes tubes to the tube processing hardware inside the rover), our sensors indicated an anomaly. The rover did as it was designed to do - halting the caching procedure and calling home for further instructions.

This is only the 6th time in human history a sample has been cored from a rock on a planet other than Earth, so when we see something anomalous going on, we take it slow. Here is what we know so far, and what we are doing about it.

This image shows the cored-rock sample remaining in the sample tube after the drill bit was extracted from Perseverance’s bit carousel on Jan. 7, 2022.
Imaging Perseverance’s Sample: This image shows the cored-rock sample remaining in the sample tube after the drill bit was extracted from Perseverance’s bit carousel on Jan. 7, 2022. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The anomaly occurred during “Coring Bit Dropoff.” It’s when the drill bit, with its sample tube and just-cored sample nestled inside, is guided out of the percussive drill (at the end of the robotic arm) and into the bit carousel (which is located on the rover’s chassis). During processing of previous cored rock samples, the coring bit travelled 5.15 inches (13.1 centimeters) before sensors began to record the kind of resistance (drag) expected at first contact with the carousel structure. However, this time around the sensor recorded higher resistance than usual at about 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) earlier than expected, and some much higher resistance than expected during the operation.

The team requested additional data and imagery to ensure proper understanding of the state post anomaly.  Because we are presently operating through a set of “restricted Sols” in which the latency of the data restricts the type of activities we can perform on Mars, it has taken about a week to receive the additional diagnostic data needed to understand this anomaly.

Armed with that data set, we sent up a command to extract the drill bit and sample-filled tube from the bit carousel and undock the robotic arm from the bit carousel. During these activities, a series of hardware images were acquired.

The extraction took place yesterday (1/6) and data was downlinked early this morning. These most recent downlinked images confirm that inside the bit carousel there are a few pieces of pebble-sized debris. The team is confident that these are fragments of the cored rock that fell out of the sample tube at the time of Coring Bit Dropoff, and that they prevented the bit from seating completely in the bit carousel.

The designers of the bit carousel did take into consideration the ability to continue to successfully operate with debris. However, this is the first time we are doing a debris removal and we want to take whatever time is necessary to ensure these pebbles exit in a controlled and orderly fashion. We are going to continue to evaluate our data sets over the weekend.

This is not the first curve Mars has thrown at us – just the latest. One thing we’ve found is that when the engineering challenge is hundreds of millions of miles away (Mars is currently 215 million miles from Earth), it pays to take your time and be thorough. We are going to do that here. So that when we do hit the un-paved Martian road again, Perseverance sample collection is also ready to roll.



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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Contributors+

  • 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
  • Phylindia Gant
    Mars 2020 Student Collaborator, University of Florida
  • 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
  • Avi Okon
    Sampling Operations Deputy Lead, NASA/JPL
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • David Pedersen
    Co-Investigator, PIXL Instrument, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Eleni Ravanis
    Student Collaborator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vandi Verma
    Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations, 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:


CAMERAS & SPECTROMETERS
GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR
ENVIRONMENTAL SENSORS
TECHNOLOGY DEMO
SAMPLE COLLECTION

Where is the Rover?

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

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