Perseverance and NASA’s plan to collect samples from Mars, analyze them and send them to Earth
While Perseverance been on Mars since Februaryis only now preparing to take its first samples of the Red Planet. After exploring Jezero Crater for several weeks, NASA has finally found the best area to sample. The area that may harbor ancient signs of life.
Since June 1, the Perseverance rover has been exploring an area of approximately four square kilometers in the Jezero crater. There are still two weeks until the exploration is complete and the final point where Perseverance will extract samples from Mars is decided. This will be the sweet spot that contains the best oldest and deepest layers of exposed bedrock.
From the soil of Mars to Earth
When Perseverance finally has a point to draw samples the rover’s science instruments will begin to work. A total of five different ones are to be used. The first of these saws abrasion bit to remove the upper layers of rock and dust and thus reach the hidden layer. Once done, two more instruments will be in charge of cleaning the layer of dust and gas to obtain an uncontaminated sample.
After that it will try to obtain a mineral and chemical analysis of the target point. Meanwhile, the Perseverance SuperCam will be in charge of firing a laser at the surface and doing a spectroscopic analysis. All this will be recorded by the Mastcam-Z.
However, what Perseverance can do is quite limited. It is because of that the analysis in-situ it’s just a first part. Then it will collect samples from Mars to be sent to Earth and can be analyzed in great detail. It is a long-term plan of more than a decade and that involves several space missions as we have seen.
What Perseverance will do is collect the samples and store them clean and free of contamination in special tubes. These tubes will be deposited and left on the surface of Mars so that in the future a future mission will pick them up and launch them back into the orbit of Mars. Once in orbit, a third mission is expected to collect them and bring them back to Earth. A tedious and ambitious plan that, hopefully, will allow us to have the first samples of Mars in history collected by ourselves.
Via | NASA