The other day, the NASA Perseverance rover successfully collected its 12th rock sample, hiding a tiny particle of the Red Planet in a special container for safe storage. But during this process, a team of engineers noticed mysterious objects stuck in the sample collection system.
“The photos showed two small pieces of debris – a small object on the core bit and a small hair object on the drill chuck,” wrote NASA JPL project manager Art Thompson.
The hair object is easy to see in the photo from August 4. It looks like a small untied thread holding a shirt button. But such strange findings worry the team of specialists of the rover about the possible contamination of test tubes with samples. The NASA team is now working to find out where the debris came from and whether they originated from Perseverance itself, or are the remnants of the descent and landing system (EDL) that delivered the rover to Mars in early 2021.
The rover takes more photos of its equipment from different angles, and also examines the surrounding surface where it collected the sample. Thompson said additional imaging and other diagnostic activities could be carried out earlier this week as NASA seeks to understand the nature of the fragments.
Other Perseverance Finds
Perseverance found a lot of mysterious fragments, for example, a grid similar to a “snake skin”. But, probably, it was a piece of the grid from the EDL, left after the fall of the device 2 kilometers from the landing site.
With the sampling system itself, problems have repeatedly arisen when small rocks prevented the placement of cores from the surface of Mars. The team was subsequently able to clear small rocks that could have jeopardized the sample collection mission. NASA hopes to bring these collected pieces of Mars back to Earth with an ambitious mission that is still under development and will involve sending several new drones to the Red Planet.
Earlier we reported on how Perseverance laser-etched the first “message” on the surface of Mars.
Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time