BLOGMARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER


Ejecting Mars' Pebbles
Before and After Perseverance Sample Tube Shake: An animated GIF depicts the Martian surface below the Perseverance rover, showing the results of the Jan. 15, 2022, percussive drill test to clear cored-rock fragments from one of the rover’s sample tubes. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The team has made good progress implementing the initial recovery steps outlined in last week’s blog. Our first success: The upper two pebbles were ejected from the bit carousel during a test. This is great news, as these small chunks of debris are believed to be the cause of the unsuccessful transfer of the drill bit and sample tube into the carousel back on Dec. 29. Our second success: We appear to have removed most – if not all – of the cored rock that remained in Sample Tube 261.

Here is the latest…

Pebbles in Bit Carousel

An annotated GIF depicts a rotational test of Perseverance’s bit carousel in which two of four rock fragments were ejected. The five images that make up the GIF were obtained by the rover’s WATSON imager on Jan. 17, 2022.
Rotating Perseverance's Bit Carousel: An annotated GIF depicts a rotational test of Perseverance’s bit carousel in which two of four rock fragments were ejected. The five images that make up the GIF were obtained by the rover’s WATSON imager on Jan. 17, 2022. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›
On Monday, Jan. 17, the WATSON camera imaged the bit carousel and its pebbles – and also took images underneath the rover to establish just what was down there before any recovery strategies were applied. Later that same Martian day, we rotated the bit carousel about 75 degrees before returning it back to its original position. WATSON imaging showed the two upper pebbles were ejected during the process. Tuesday night we also received the second set of under-rover images, which show two new pebbles on the surface, indicating the ejected pebbles made it fully through bit carousel and back onto the surface of Mars as planned.

The other two pebbles, located below the bit carousel, remain. It is interesting to note that some of the initial trials performed on our testbed here on Earth indicate that the location of the two leftover pebbles may not pose a significant problem with bit carousel operation, but we are continuing analysis and testing to confirm this.

Remaining Sample in Tube

A portion of a cored-rock sample is ejected from the rotary percussive drill on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. The imagery was collected by the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument on Jan. 15, 2022.
Perseverance Expels Rock Fragments: A portion of a cored-rock sample is ejected from the rotary percussive drill on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. The imagery was collected by the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument on Jan. 15, 2022. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS. Download image ›
On Saturday, Jan. 15, the team performed an experiment using Perseverance’s rotary-percussive drill. After the robotic arm oriented the drill with Sample Tube 261’s open end angled around 9 degrees below horizontal, the rover’s drill spindle rotated and then extended. Our remarkable Mastcam-Z instrument (which has video capability previously used to document some of Ingenuity’s flights) captured the event. The imagery from the experiment shows a small amount of sample material falling out of the drill bit/sample tube. Later that same Martian day, the bit was positioned vertically over “Issole” (the rock that provided this latest core) to see if additional sample would fall out under the force of gravity. However, Mastcam-Z imaging of 261’s interior after this subsequent maneuver showed it still contained some sample.  

This image, taken by the Mastcam-Z camera aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover on Jan. 20, 2022, shows the rover successfully expelled the remaining large fragments of cored rock from a sample tube held in its drill.
Perseverance's Sample Tube Looks Clean: This image, taken by the Mastcam-Z camera aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover on Jan. 20, 2022, shows the rover successfully expelled the remaining large fragments of cored rock from a sample tube held in its drill. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS. Download image ›
Given that some of the sample had already been lost, the team decided it was time to return the rest of the sample to Mars and hopefully completely empty the tube to ready it for potentially another sampling attempt. On Monday, Jan. 17, the team commanded another operation of the rotary percussive drill in an attempt to dislodge more material from the tube. With the tube’s open end still pointed towards the surface, we essentially shook the heck out of it for 208 seconds – by means of the percussive function on the drill. Mastcam-Z imagery taken after the event shows that multiple pieces of sample were dumped onto the surface. Is Tube 261 clear of rock sample? We have new Mastcam-Z images looking down the drill bit into the sample container that indicate little if any debris from the cored-rock sample remains. The sample tube has been cleared for reuse by the project.

Future Moves

The team is still reviewing the data and discussing next steps. Like all Mars missions, we’ve had some unexpected challenges. Each time, the team and our rover have risen to the occasion. We expect the same result this time – by taking incremental steps, analyzing results, and then moving on, we plan to fully resolve this challenge and get back to exploration and sampling at Jezero Crater.



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, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN

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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