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NASA's rover is experiencing technical difficulties on Mars

NASA's rover is experiencing technical difficulties on Mars

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Perseverance failure could impact NASA's mission to Mars. But another rover on Mars gives hope.

PASADENA — Since landing on Mars in February 2021, NASA's newest rover, Perseverance, has collected and transmitted a wealth of data from the Red Planet to Earth. He made some revolutionary discoveries, including clear signs of ancient water on Mars and the discovery of organic materials. In addition, Perseverance created oxygen on Mars using a special instrument.

NASA's Perseverance spacecraft will search for early life on Mars

NASA sent Perseverance on a mission to Jezero Crater on Mars, a former lake with an adjacent river delta. Here the spacecraft revealed the history of water on Mars. Its mission is to explore ancient conditions on Mars and determine whether life once existed there. To achieve this, NASA's spacecraft analyzes rock samples using cameras, spectrometers and lasers. However, there is currently a problem with this method.

The tool is located
The Sherlock instrument is located at the front of the robotic arm of NASA's Perseverance rover. He uses it to analyze Martian rocks when the machine is running. (File photo) © NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

According to NASA An instrument called “Sherlock”, located at the end of Perseverance's robotic arm, is currently being examined by a team due to a technical issue. “Sherlock” consists of, among other things, a laser that targets interesting Martian rocks. Using his camera and spectrometer, Sherlock can analyze rocks, always looking for signs of past water or organic matter.

The Mars rover cannot use its own laser

However, this analysis is not currently possible, as NASA explains on its website. One of the two covers that are supposed to prevent dust from reaching Sherlock's lens is partially open. “In this situation, coverage affects scientific data collection,” NASA said. This problem has been present since the beginning of January. “With the cover in its current position, the instrument cannot use its laser and cannot collect spectral data,” the US space agency said.

A team examined the vehicle to determine the cause of the problem and find possible solutions. In order to better understand how the cap motor behaves, the team sent commands to the device to change the power source. However, no solution has been found yet.

NASA has significant experience planning Mars missions

However, there is an alternative to collecting spectral data: it can be collected using Sherlock's color Watson camera. This demonstrates NASA's extensive experience in planning Mars missions: Perseverance's instruments are designed so that the rover can still perform its missions even if one of the seven instruments malfunctions. The “Pixl” and “SuperCam” tools can also collect spectral data.

At NASA, people don't panic, they calmly look for a solution to the problem. This is not easy because there is no technician who can simply travel to Mars and repair the rover there. However, there's also good news: Perseverance is based on NASA's successful Curiosity rover, which has been conducting research on Mars for more than a decade. If Perseverance has a similar lifespan, the rover would still have several years to explore Mars. (unpaid bill)

The editor wrote this article and then used an AI language model to improve at her own discretion. All information has been carefully checked. Find out more about our AI principles here.

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