The team that handles Perseverance NASA announced on September 1 that the rover had managed to pierce a rock on Mars . Along with this news, the images of the sample collection process did not take long to arrive.
Those first photographs illustrating this historical event also showed an intact sample placed in the tube after extraction. However, NASA has explained that ” additional images taken after the arm completed the acquisition of the sample were inconclusive due to poor sunlight conditions . “
For this reason, the team has decided to take another round of photos with better lighting before continuing with the sample processing. According to the space agency, although the group of researchers is confident that Perseverance has stored the sample in its tube, ” the images in optimal lighting conditions will confirm its presence . “
The Perseverance Sampling and Storage System
To sample the red planet, the rover uses a rotary hammer drill and a hollow drill bit attached to the end of its 2-meter-long robotic arm. Through these elements, Perseverance achieves samples with a thickness similar to that of a pencil.
Inside the bit, there is a sample tube. There, the September 1 sample was placed. However, before continuing with the process, the rover’s Mastcam-Z took photographs of the part. Thanks to these images, the team verified that the extracted rock was the size of a briefcase.
Subsequently, Perseverance performed a process known as ‘percussion to swallow’ which NASA has explained consists of ” cleaning the lip of the sample tube of any residual material .”
Right after that task, the Mastcam-Z took a second image capture, but this time the lighting was poor and the inner part of the tube is not clearly visible. Therefore, the team decided to make a second attempt.
The second round of images
As reported by NASA, the new photographs will be captured today, September 3 . In this second attempt, the images will be taken when the Sun is at a more favorable angle for the internal view of the tube.
The International Space Station photographed by members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking.
New cracks found in the International Space Station that endanger its durability
In addition, photographs of the sunset will also be taken to reduce point sources of light that can saturate the image.
The results of this Martian photoshoot will be sent to Earth tomorrow, September 4. If these images are also inconclusive, the Perseverance team will have to turn to the volume probe of the sampling and storage system to confirm that the sample is still in the tube.