Images and data downlinked Thursday from Perseverance show that we’ve successfully cored, sealed, and stored our 12th sample of the mission. As the team always does, images of several sample collection system components were taken after completion of the coring activity. In those images, two small pieces of debris were visible – a small object on the coring bit (stored in the bit carousel) and a small hairline object on the drill chuck. The team is now looking into the origin of the debris, and whether it originated from the rover or external debris from the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) system that was jettisoned at the start of the mission.
It is early in the investigation. Commands will be uplinked tomorrow for additional imaging. Perseverance’s forward Hazcam and Navcams will obtain images of the workspace (the surface directly in front of the rover) to see if there is any foreign object debris visible. And the turret at the end of the robotic arm will be slewed so pictures of the drill chuck and bit carousel can be obtained from more oblique angles. That imaging data is expected down sometime over the weekend. Additional imaging and other diagnostic activities needed to further understand the nature of the debris are also being considered, with their implementation expected to take place early next week.