The US space agency NASA announced on Friday that the first attempt to drill the Perseverance rover on Mars had failed, as no rock was recovered during the operation. The agency said that although the rover’s drill bit and impact drill worked as expected, the sample tube was found to be empty after the drilling process. “The sampling process is self-sufficient from start to finish,” said Jessica Samuels, surface mission manager for Perseverance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
One of the steps that occurs after placing a probe in the collection tube is to measure the volume of the sample. The probe did not meet the expected resistance that would be if there was a sample inside the tube, “he added. Members of the Perseverance team planned to analyze the well data, including taking and evaluating close-up photographs of the well that remained after the process. NASA said that once the data is evaluated, the team will be able to plan the next drilling attempt.
Rock target does not react as expected
“The initial idea is that the empty tube is more likely to be the result of the rock target not reacting as we expected during extraction, and less likely a hardware problem with the sampling and setup system. Cache,” he said Jennifer Trosper, Perseverance Project Manager at JPL. “Over the next several days, the team will spend more time analyzing the data we have and acquiring additional diagnostic data to help understand the root cause of the empty tube.”
Promising signs of aquatic activity
This week’s drilling took place in an area called the Crater Floor Fractured Rough at Jezero Crater on Mars. Images from the Ingenuity helicopter indicated that the area showed promising signs of water activity on a former lake bed. NASA said the drilling was aimed at giving scientists a better idea of the sedimentary history of the Red Planet. Insight data offers clues to the deep interior of Mars, forming in the solar system. “While this is not the ‘hole in one’ we expected, there is always the risk of innovation,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.