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NASA blames soft Rocks for failure with Perseverance Rover Sampling

NASA believes that unusually soft rocks were to blame for the fiasco that the Perseverance rover suffered last week while attempting to take soil samples.

The Perseverance rover failed to complete its first soil sample from the surface of Mars to return it to Earth. Data transmitted to our planet last Friday showed that the rover had drilled to its target depth of about 8 centimeters and that the hole drilled looked proper in photographs. However, it soon turned out that the soil sample container was empty.

Engineers have since determined that these rocks were not strong enough to form a full-fledged core, and the drilling left small dust particles inside the hole or in the spoil pile — or here and there. So now the rover is off to the next sampling site in search of traces of Martian life; it should arrive at its designated location by the first of next month.

Images were taken by the Martian companion helicopter Ingenuity (“Ingenuity”) show that sampling sediment in that area can be done much easier, Louise Jandura, chief engineer for the Perseverance rover sampling campaign, said last Wednesday.

“The equipment worked as normal, but the rocks did not cooperate with us this time,” Jandura pointed out in a mission status update published online.

NASA plans to collect about 35 samples of Martian rocks to be returned to Earth by future space missions over the next decade.

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