Re: Unnecessary complexity
>So the faffing about with an extra rover (now two helicopters) would have been unnecessary if Perseverance just had a damn rack for the filled samples.<
That would be one way to go. It's hard to say why that would have been eliminated as an option. One could imagine that if the rover had a serious fault, there might not be an easy way to access that rack by another rover later on. Picking up a loose vial on the surface insures that the samples are retrievable no matter what happens to the rover that collected them.
Mission planning takes years and years and the trip to Mars another 9 months. If a collection rover is designed and built but before it can even be launched, the rover at Mars rolls over and can't right itself, a whole new collection rover would have to be designed and built to first flip the rover over and then be able to get the rack. It would be nice to see a book published that went over the scenarios that went into the mission and how the risks were rated. I love to learn about that sort of thing as it wasn't really taught in any of my engineering classes when I was at Uni. I also didn't get any engineering history which I find very fascinating as well.