Earthbound! NASA Rover deposits second rock sample for Mars Sample Return | Tech News

Earthbound! NASA Rover deposits second rock sample for Mars Sample Return

NASA’s Mars Rover has deposited its second rock sample for the historic Mars Sample Return mission.

| Updated on: Dec 27 2022, 16:44 IST
Top NASA tech that solved Mars myths and mysteries like never before
NASA sample return mission
1/10 Humans have been studying Mars for hundred of years. In 1609, Galileo was the first person to peer through a telescope and get a more intimate image of what many could only have dreamed of. (Pixabay)
NASA sample return mission
2/10 An up close and personal view of the red planet emerged as time progressed and so did the capabilities of telescopes. In fact, from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, many astronomers believed that Mars was home to majestic seas and lush areas of vegetation. The Dark markings on Mars surface were once believed to be caused by vegetation growing and dying. (Pixabay)
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3/10 Some even believed that intelligent life existed on Mars just because of what they saw through their simple telescopes. But that is exactly was science is about-you make educated guesses based on what you know, then change your ideas based on what you learn. (NASA)
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4/10 Now, thanks to new sophisticated equipment and robotic visits to Mars, it turns out they were caused by Martian wind. It was not until the 1960s, when NASA's Mariner missions flew by and snapped pictures of Mars that many of the myths about the red planet were dispelled. (NASA)
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5/10 That does not make Mars any less interesting. The possibility that life actually existed once on Mars is still a distinct possibility. Or it may even be existing on Mars today! No, not in the form of little green men, but on a microbial level. (NASA)
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6/10 Now, taking pictures is great and all. But nothing is better than getting to know the real thing. So, to get a better feel of Mars, Scientists and engineers built some nifty technologies, from spacecrafts to reach Mars and rovers (vehicles) to actually trundle and explore the planet. (NASA/JPL)
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7/10 Among the earliest tech deployed for Mars was Phoenix. It was launched on August 4, 2007 and so began its 9-month long, 681 Million km journey to the legendary red planet. Now, landing on a planet is not as easy as simply dropping a spacecraft onto it. There is actually a lot of steps to the process. (NASA)
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8/10 On May 25, 2008, Phoenix entered Mars atmosphere. It used its heat shield to slow down the high speed entry of 5600 meters per second or around 12500 miles per hour. It released a supersonic PARACHUTE, then detached from its parachute and used its rocket engines to land safely on the planet's surface. Phoenix' landing spot was further north and closer to the ice covered poles than any spacecraft has ever been before. (NASA)
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9/10 Phoenix had two primary goals: One was to study the history of water in the Martian arctic and the other was to search for evidence of a habitual zone and assess the biological potential of the ice soil boundary. And to do that the spacecraft was packed full of gizmos and gadgets to perform all sets of experiments and tests. One of these gizmos was a robotic arm with a shovel attached. It was used to dig up samples of the martian soil for experiments! (NASA)
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10/10 Another top tech on the Mars surface was the Surface Stereo Imager, which is really just a fancy name for the camera. Three surface stereo imagers were Phoenix' eye. Engineers built the device with two optical lenses that would allow for a three dimensional view, just like our eyes. And the SSI sent back some amazing images of the martian landscape. (Source: NASA/Justin Tully) (NASA)
NASA sample return mission
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NASA’s Mars Sample Return is a series of missions to retrieve scientific samples of Mars collected by the Perseverance rover. and bring them back to Earth. (NASA)

NASA's Perseverance Rover has now deposited its second rock sample, following the first which was deposited less than a week ago for NASA's Sample Return programme. Mars Sample Return is NASA's programme to bring important scientific samples back to Earth in a bid to study the red planet's conditions for potentially establishing a colony one day. NASA's Mars Sample Return programme is a series of missions to retrieve scientific samples of Mars collected by the Perseverance rover. One of the most ambitious space missions ever planned, the Mars Sample Return mission would allow scientists to study those samples using state-of-the-art technology here on Earth. Just days ago, the mission was kicked off with the first ever sample collected and deposited at the pickup location by NASA's Perseverance Rover on December 21. 

Now, another one has been deposited at the drop location.

Rick Welch, Perseverance's deputy project manager at JPL said in a NASA blog,” “Seeing our first sample on the ground is a great capstone to our prime mission period, which ends on Jan. 6. It's a nice alignment that, just as we're starting our cache, we're also closing this first chapter of the mission.”

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NASA's Perseverance Rover has been collecting duplicate rock samples from rocks selected for this mission. The first sample, a core of an igneous rock, termed as “Malay” was collected from a region of Mars' Jezero Crater called “South Séítah on January 31 and deposited in a titanium test tube which currently rests on the surface of the Red Planet. Over the next two months, the rover will deposit a total of 10 tubes at the location termed as “Three Forks”.

Journey from Mars to Earth

A Sample Retrieval Lander would launch to Mars in 2028, carrying with it a NASA-led Mars rocket and a pair of small Mars helicopters which would land close to Perseverance's landing location in the Jezero Crater. The Perseverance rover would transport martian samples to the Sample Retrieval Lander, handing off a collection of sample tubes carried on board via the robotic arm attached to it.

The helicopters would provide an assist in picking up the samples by picking up additional samples stashed on the surface by Perseverance. The Mars Ascent Vehicle would transport the container of sample tubes into orbit, making the MAV the first rocket ever to launch off the surface of Mars.

According to NASA, the Capture, Containment, and Return System aboard the Earth Return Orbiter would capture the Sample container and transfer it into a clean zone for Earth return. The Earth Return Orbiter would then ferry the entry vehicle and all the samples back to Earth's orbit, where it would separate and touchdown on land safely.

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First Published Date: 27 Dec, 16:28 IST