At March operations are continuing to restore full functionality of sample collection by the The American rover NASA Perseverance. At the beginning of January, during one of the samples, the engineers noted a problem with the sample holder carousel which prevented the proper sealing of tube number 261.
Comparison of photos before and after operations, note the fallen rock fragments
Solving an unexpected problem millions of miles away is never easy. However, this did not deter JPL engineers who identified a strategy to return to full functionality of the martian rover. The operations focused on two points in particular: on the one hand, emptying test specimen 261 of the rock still inside. On the other, remove the stones that block the rotation of the carousel. All the while, a sandstorm was hitting the area, which prevented NASA Ingenuity from flying.
Fixing NASA Perseverance Problems
As said in the last post on official blogon January 17 the WATSON camera was used to take the lower part of the martian rover. This operation served to get an idea of the stones that were on the ground at that time. Later, by comparing the before and after images of the carousel cleaning operations, the team could tell if everything was going well.
The rotation of the carousel with the rock fragments, before and after
Engineers then sent the order to NASA Perseverance Rotate the sample carousel 75°, then return it to its original position. This was enough to remove the two upper rock fragments which were also seen in the images of the area below martian rover. There are now two other small stones left that may not pose a problem for operations, according to simulations performed on Earth.
Empty the sample tube
The second part of the operations was rather aimed at taking the part of the sample taken from the Rock of Isole to avoid “to waste” a test tube without filling it completely. The drill that performs the coring was positioned so as to empty test specimen 261 while the Mastcam-Z camera (on the “to manage” of the rover) took a video of the event.
The expulsion of the samples from the tube 261
A second power-up of the drill NASA Perseverance, positioned vertically this time, was performed later to be sure to empty the specimen. Tube 261 (open) was hammer drilled through 208″ dropping almost all of the remaining sample portions.
Although the test tube is therefore not completely empty, it can still be reused for taking samples. In the next few days, once everything is working properly, there may be a second sampling of Rock of Isole then we will continue with the exploration of the Jezero Crater.
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