Perseverance's drilling problems continued while InSight came out of safe mode after a powerful storm. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Perseverance Rover is Having Issues Sealing a Sample From Mars

NASA's Perseverance rover is trying to secure a sample it collected on Mars, but something has gone wrong.

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We can probably assume that billions of years ago, there was some sort of life on Mars. I wasn’t probably evolved. It was likely microbial in nature. We can assume that. To know for sure, there are two things we need to do. We can go physically to Mars and perform experiments. These experiments would tell us whether there was, or still is, life on the red planet. However, sending humans to Mars is a very complex mission. Instead, we can send rovers there and have them collect samples. This is exactly what NASA did with the Perseverance rover. The rover is tasked with exploring Mars, collecting samples, and sealing them in tubes. These tubes will be collected in later missions and sent back to Earth, where scientists will study them.

Percy

Percy, as it is nicknamed, is drilling Mars and collecting samples of the Martian surface that are a few centimeters wide. Now, mission scientists report that the rover has encountered an anomaly. The rover drilled for samples in October. When it tried to seal the samples, the process wouldn’t complete. Now, NASA is trying to figure out how to secure the samples nicknamed “Mageik.” The securing of the sample is a multi-step process that takes place inside the Persernvace Rover’s Sampling and Caching System. “When the sample handling system attempted to dispense a seal in the tube of the Mageik sample, the seal encountered too much resistance and did not come free,” the agency revealed in a statement.

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Percy detected something was off with the securing of the sample when it tried sealing it. It then stashed the tube and is now waiting for scientists on Earth to figure out how to seal it.

Who’s to blame?

The culprit isn’t aliens though. As per NASA, it is likely that the problem was caused by Martian dust. And there is lots of dust on Mars. In fact, Martian dust is believed to have killed the InSight lander after its solar panels were covered with reddish soil. Scientists believe that dust is getting in the way of a clean seal. Based on images of the caching system, scientists identified dust. Nonetheless, Percy has an integrated cleaning system that is designed specifically to clean dust. NASA has tried 19 sweeping operations and three attempts at selling the sample. So far, the agency has not managed to secure the sample. Troubleshooting will continue until the rover secures and stores away the samples.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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