NASA's Perseverance rover has dropped a titanium tube containing samples collected from Mars. The tube looks like a lightsaber from the franchise Star Wars. The Mars Sample Return Mission is expected to recover 17 sample tubes from Mars and return them to Earth.
NASA has recently revealed new photographs taken by its state-of-the-art Perseverance rover. Unlike the usual photographs of the Martian landscape, we see one photo taken from underneath the rover. There, on the reddish Maritan soil, we see a small object that kind of resembles the famous lightsaber from Star Wars. Although it is obviously not, the object is of extreme importance to Mars, Earth, and future space exploration. The lightsaberish titanium tube was deposited there on December 21 by the rover. And this is just one of the many it will place on the red planet’s surface.
In the next few months, NASA has revealed that Perseverance will deposit another nine tubes on an area called “Three Forks,” building up the first return sample preparations from another planet. Since it landed, Perseverance has been doing fantastic science on Mars. It has been taking several samples from different Martian objects. In total, in its belly, Percy holds 17 samples (as I like to call them, lightsabers), one of which is not from the surface but from Mars’ atmosphere.
All of this is according to plan and a step of the Mars Sample Return Mission, also known as MSR. The rover is expected to drop off a series of samples for a future lander. This one will, in turn, use a specifically designed robotic arm to place the samples collected by Percy into a containment capsule. This capsule will be part of a rocket that will then blast off into orbit. There, another spacecraft will capture the container from the surface of Mars and then make its way back to Earth, where the samples are set to be dropped off for scientists to take a better, closer look.
The Mars Sample Return mission is expected to return home (the capsule) but 2033. The orbiter is expected o launch in 2027, and the lander in 2028. Read more about it here.