11 August 2021 NASA said Monday that the Perseverance rover failed to collect rock samples from Mars last week because of insufficient rock strength.
Perseverance drilled holes in the Jezero Crater on June 6, making its first attempt to collect samples of rocks and weathering layers on Mars. Data sent back to Earth that day showed that the Mars rover robotic arm drilling depth of nearly 8 cm, drilling looks good, but the sample tube empty as well. The Mars rover project leader speculated at the time that the failure may have been caused by the rock itself, not by problems with the sampling system hardware.
According to the Associated Press reported on the 11th, engineers after many days of analysis determined that the rock strength is not enough to collect core samples. The drill bits then smashed the rock into tiny pieces, either in the hole, in the pile of debris, or both. The rover is now heading to the next sampling point for signs of ancient life on Mars, which is expected to arrive early next month.
Louise Trosper, chief engineer of the Perseverance sampling team, estimated Monday that images sent back by the Rover and the Smart Mars helicopter suggest that sedimentary rocks at the next sampling site may be more suitable for sampling. Referring to the failure of the first sample, Trosper said: “It’s another reminder of the nature of exploration, no matter how much preparation you make, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a definite result.” ”
NASA hopes to collect about 35 samples on Mars, with the spacecraft sending them back to Earth within 10 years.
NASA says this is not the first time a Mission to Mars has failed because of the earthy texture on its surface. In 2008, when the Phoenix Mars lander collected soil samples, it was difficult to collect them successfully in the instrument because the soil was more sticky, and it was successful after many attempts. Since then, curiosity rovers have drilled holes in Martian rocks, which have been found to be harder and more brittle than expected. In January, the Insight Mars rover’s thermal probe failed to penetrate the surface of Mars as planned because of a patchy Martian soil that did not provide enough friction for the device.