This short animation shows doors opening and closing on parts of the Sample Caching System aboard the rover

March 23, 2021

These sets of images were taken between March 13 and 15, 2021 (the 22nd and 24th Martian days, or sols, of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance mission) show doors opening and closing on parts of the Sample Caching System aboard the rover. Perseverance’s Sample Caching System consists of three robotic components that will work in concert to collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and dust), seal them in tubes, and deposit those tubes on the surface of Mars for retrieval by a future mission. Perseverance is the first rover to bring a sample caching system to Mars.

The first set of images, taken by Perseverance’s Navigation Cameras, shows a door opening on the upper part of the bit carousel, a flying-saucer-like component that stores drill bits for the system’s coring tool. It transfers bits with empty sample tubes onto the rover’s robotic arm and also collects bits containing filled sample tubes from the coring tool.

The second set of images shows a door opening on the lower part of the bit carousel, as seen under the rover’s belly. They were taken by the WATSON camera, a part of the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter technology demonstration activity is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built and manages operations of Perseverance and Ingenuity for the agency. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust). Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.


NASA/JPL-Caltech and NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


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