NASA’s Perseverance Rover Has Overcome Its Martian Pebble Problem

by Megan Molseed
nasas-perseverance-rover-has-overcome-its-martian-pebble-problem

Even some of the best technology ever created can face some issues. This is exactly what NASA’s Perseverance Rover learned recently as its job was slowed down quite a bit after some pebbles became lodged inside some important machinery. But, the good news is on the horizon as the Perseverance Rover is fixing the issue of dislodging the tiny rocks. And, once this is done, the impressive piece of machinery will continue on its journey to explore the Martian landscapes.

Last year, NASA’s rover went down in history after successfully collecting samples of Martian rock for the first time. The Perseverance Rover continued its duties quite successfully a few more times after taking the initial sample. However, it was soon slowed as pebbles became lodged within the machinery used by Perseverance to collect samples. Thankfully, the rover has been able to shake these pebbles loose, NASA has announced. And, things are looking good for the Perseverance Rover continuing its mission once the pebbles after dislodging the debris.

Perseverance Faces Some Big Challenges From Some Little Pebbles

NASA first learned of this problem when the rover was attempting to collect its seventh sample collection. All went well as the rover was drilling into the rock. There were also no complications as Perseverance collected its sample. However, as the rover was putting the tube with the recently collected sample inside the carousel that holds each collection, sensors noted some resistance. As it turns out, pebbles had fallen into the carousel, jamming the system briefly. The team then decided to try to rotate the carousel. They did this while tipping the sample to dislodge the tiny rocks.

Of course, the scientists face few and limited options for fully dislodging these pebbles. This, of course, is because the rover is literally on another world. But, their techniques seem to be working just fine. Two of the pieces of rock have now been dislodged. However, two more pieces of debris remain lodged in the Perseverance Rover. But, the scientists note, experiments with the technology here on Earth suggest that these pebbles won’t prevent the collection of future Mars samples.

“The team is still reviewing the data and discussing next steps,” notes Rick Welch, Deputy Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a recent Mars Perseverance Rover update.

“Like all Mars missions, we’ve had some unexpected challenges,” the deputy project manager explains.

“Each time, the team and our rover have risen to the occasion,” continues Welch.

“We expect the same result this time – by taking incremental steps, analyzing results, and then moving on,” the NASA expert adds. “We plan to fully resolve this challenge and get back to exploration and sampling at Jezero Crater.”

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