Perseverance and Ingenuity continue to amaze me. But so does so much of what NASA does. I admit it, I'm a space geek.
NASA scientists can breathe a sigh of relief now that Perseverance has successfully collected not one but two Martian rock specimens, after its first attempt to obtain and store a sample failed. The plucky rover was sent to the Jezero crater to hunt for signs that Mars was once inhabited by microbes. Scientists believe their …
Do the sample tubes have 'grab' handles?
Although I think the mission is great science and is very much the Sort Of Thing humanity should be doing I don't quite understand why this mission drills the samples and 'bottles' them and a later mission will collect them. Sure, we (humanity) don't yet have the ability to bring things back from Mars but when we do have that ability won't it be easier to go with a drill capable of getting fresh samples?
I hope I'm still ticking over when we do get them back.
I expect that the weight constraints of landing something on Mars capable of lift-off and returning to Earth orbit means that including a rover element as well, that can trundle out collecting its own samples means that it is more efficient to separate the missions into one that collects and one that returns the samples.
The other issue is that landing a rocket on mars with the ability to return involves a canister of rocket fuel, with the potential for rapid disassembly were anything to go wrong. In that event it would be far better to lose merely the return mission than the whole analyse and collect mission too.
I too hope I'm still around when the samples are returned.
On another matter, I hope I'm still around in 2037 when Hubble or something else observes a supernova again:
Gravitational lensing means we have got lots of warning of a delayed view.
...managed to bottle up two samples this time. NASA has named them Montdenier and Montagnac. Although boffins on Earth won’t get their hands on them for many years...
I'm curious about how they are going to find the samples tubes again. With quite a few years before the collection mission arrives, they will probably be covered by a layer of dust by the Martian winds, which often result in a global dust storms. That will probably also obliterate the rovers tacks too. Mars doesn't have a GPS system, so the only way I can think of is very careful matching of photographs to find the location, and a lot of scrabbling around with the robot arm.
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