(ORDO NEWS) — The Perseverance rover has begun creating a warehouse of duplicate Martian rock samples for subsequent delivery to Earth.
Within a month, the rover will lay out a broken line from core test tubes so that in the future two drones can pick them up and take them to a special rocket, according to the NASA website.
Perseverance has been exploring Mars‘ Lake crater for nearly two years, collecting rock samples in sealed test tubes.
There are 43 of them on board the rover, at the moment 15 rock samples (igneous, sedimentary, regolith) have been obtained, each of which is represented by two cores, a sample of the Martian atmosphere and an empty test tube for assessing contamination with terrestrial substances.
Currently, the plan to deliver test tubes with samples from Mars to Earth provides for two scenarios. In the first case, the rover must, in a few years, independently load the test tubes onto the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) rocket, which will deliver the samples to the near-Martian orbit, where they will be picked up by the ERO orbiter and delivered to Earth in 2033.
In the second case, if the rover for some reason fails by the time the MAV arrives on Mars, then two drones similar to Ingenuity will come into play, which will transport duplicates of all rock samples from a special warehouse on the surface of the planet to the rocket.
In October, NASA and ESA chose a location for a warehouse of duplicate samples – the “Three Forks” region, located on a flat area of the crater floor. Now the rover began to fill the warehouse with ten already sealed sample tubes. This step will take 30 days.
According to the plan, the rover will move along a broken line, successively dropping one test tube from a height of 88.8 centimeters onto the surface of the planet.
Samples will be spaced 5 to 15 meters apart, and each tube will be surrounded by a 5.5 meter diameter zone for drone operation.
The researchers take into account the fact that the test tubes can become clogged with sand and dust over time, so each sample drop zone will be carefully photographed.
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