Sealing Sample 14
CacheCam Image of Perseverance's 14th Sample of Martian Rock: These images show changes in the dust accumulation over the course of four days on the rim of the collection tube containing Perseverance’s 14th sample. The images were acquired on Oct. 22, Oct. 26, Oct. 28, and Oct. 31 by the rover’s Sampling and Caching System Camera, or CacheCam. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The team is making progress identifying and implementing a fix that will allow a seal to cap off the rover’s latest rock sample, which was collected at the base of Jezero’s delta from an outcrop called “Amalik.” The anomaly first appeared on Oct. 5 after the successful coring of the mission’s 14th sample, called “Mageik,” when the seal assigned to cap the rock-core-filled sample tube did not release as expected from its dispenser.

The process of sealing a sample happens in the rover’s Sampling and Caching System. During sealing, a small robotic arm moves the rock-core-filled tube to one of seven dispensers and presses its open end against a waiting seal. On the 17 previous occasions when a sample tube had been sealed during the mission, the seal was pressed fully into the tube. (The rover has taken 14 rock-core samples, two atmospheric samples, and one “witness” sample.) That allowed the seal to be extracted from the dispenser and the arm to move the seal-tube combination to a different station where they are pressed together, creating a hermetic seal. However, when the sample handling system attempted to dispense a seal in the tube of the Mageik sample, the seal encountered too much resistance and did not come free. The sampling system automatically detected the lack of seal and stored the unsealed tube safely so the tube and sample hardware remain in a stable configuration.  

One of the possible causes of the seal’s nondeployment may be that Martian dust adhered to a location on the tube’s interior surface where the dust could impede successful coupling and extraction. To ensure a hermetic seal, the tolerances between tube and seal are, by necessity, extremely small: 0.00008 inches (0.002 mm). The rover’s CacheCam captured images showing light deposits of dust on the tube’s lip, but the camera’s imaging capabilities along the tube’s inner surface are quite limited.

To test the hypothesis that dust was impeding progress, the rover’s engineering team employed (for the first time during the mission) the Sampling and Caching System’s Bore Sweeping Tool. The tool is designed to clean the inner surface near the tube’s opening and also move the collected rock sample further down into the tube. Data collected after multiple uses of the tool indicates it pushed at least some of dust that was lining the inner periphery deeper into the sample tube, and as a result the amount of force required to insert the seal into the tube during additional sealing attempts was diminished.

To date, 19 Bore Sweeping Tool operations have been performed, and a total of three attempts to bring tube and seal together. And, while further progress has been documented, the seal has yet to release from its dispenser.

As with previous unexpected challenges – no sample in tube, pebbles in bit carousel, etc. – we’re going to take this slow, review the data and then proceed. But in the meantime, as Perseverance’s overall status remains healthy and stable, we’re also going to continue our explorations of Jezero. To that end, the mission team has decided to drive further north and explore an area called “Yori Pass.” 

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
  • Matthew Brand
    SuperCam/ChemCam Engineer, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • 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
    Gainesville, FL
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Erin Gibbons
    Student Collaborator, McGill University
    Montreal, Canada
  • Michael Hecht
    Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Westford, MA
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Bavani Kathir
    Student Collaborator on Mastcam-Z, Western Washington University
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Steven Lee
    Perseverance Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • An Li
    Student Collaborator on PIXL, University of Washington
  • Justin Maki
    Imaging Scientist and Mastcam-Z Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA/JPL
  • Sarah Milkovich
    Assistant Science Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Eleanor Moreland
    Ph.D. Student, Rice University
    Houston, Texas
  • Matt Muszynski
    Vehicle Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Claire Newman
    Atmospheric Scientist, Aeolis Research
    Altadena, CA
  • Avi Okon
    Sampling Operations Deputy Lead, 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
  • Eleni Ravanis
    Student Collaborator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Kathryn Stack
    Deputy Project Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Iona (Brockie) Tirona
    Sampling Engineer, 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
    Pasadena, CA
  • 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:


Where is the Rover?

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

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