NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully secured a core sample of Mars rock. It accomplished this using a Sampling and Caching System that consists of a rotary-percussive drill and a hollow coring bit at the end of its 7-foot-long robotic arm. This tool is used to extract samples that can be slightly thicker than a pencil, and within the bit is a sample tube, which has to be opened in order to be imaged by the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument. Read more for a short video and additional information.
The sample collection occurred at a briefcase-size rock belonging to a ridgeline that is over half-a-mile long, complete with rock outcrops and boulders. Once the images were successfully captured, the rover started a “percuss to ingest” process, which vibrates the drill bit and tube for one second, five separate times. This process is designed to clear the lip of the sample tube of any residual material.
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The project got its first cored rock under its belt, and that’s a phenomenal accomplishment. The team determined a location, and selected and cored a viable and scientifically valuable rock. We did what we came to do. We will work through this small hiccup with the lighting conditions in the images and remain encouraged that there is sample in this tube,” said Jennifer Trosper, project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.