NASA has gone through nine years and about $2 billion in its journey to penetrate and store tests of Martian rocks. The Perseverance rover was poised Friday to finally make that happen.
The rover picked a stone in an old Mars lake bed that might have once held alien life and endeavored to penetrate. However, at that point, something unusual occurred: The samples appear to have vanished mysteriously.
There’s a finger-size opening in the stone where the sample ought to have come out, yet the rover’s sample-collection tube is unfilled. What’s more, the stone center isn’t lying close to the opening. It’s just not there.
Thomas Zurbuchen the NASA associate administrator said in a public statement: “While this is not the ‘hole-in-one’ we hoped for, there is always risk with breaking new ground, I’m confident we have the right team working this, and we will persevere toward a solution to ensure future success.”
Jennifer Trosper, the project manager for Perseverance, said in a press release: “The initial thinking is that the empty tube is more likely a result of the rock target not reacting the way we expected during coring, and less likely a hardware issue with the Sampling and Caching System,”
She further added: “Over the next few days, the team will be spending more time analyzing the data we have, and also acquiring some additional diagnostic data to support understanding the root cause for the empty tube.”
Perseverance’s main objective on Mars is to investigate a region called Jezero Crater and collect rock samples; the tube that came empty without any sample is one of 43 the rover is conveying for this reason. NASA intends to send another mission to Mars in about 10 years to recover the samples and take them back to Earth. Then, at that point researchers can explore whether microbial life may have lived in the lake that once filled the basin.
As such, a lot of preparation and money is riding on Perseverance’s capacity to drill successfully.