Perseverance grabs its 12th sample of Mars

Images of the sample revealed an unusual surprise
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Since NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, it has collected samples to help us understand the mysteries of the Red Planet. NASA announced in a blog post that Perseverance successfully cored, sealed and stored the mission's 12th sample. 

SEE: NASA is sending more helicopters to Mars to help bring samples back | ZDNet

After the coring activity was completed, the team took images of the several sample collection system components. Those images showed two small pieces of debris – a small object on the coring bit and a small hairline object on the drill chuck.

The team is now investigating the origin of the debris and whether it originated from the rover or external debris from the entry, descent and landing (EDL) system that brought the rover to Mars.

When Perseverance landed on Mars, some EDL hardware debris was discarded onto the surface of the planet. Last week, a NASA blog post showed images of the EDL debris on Mars which included a backshell, parachute and other smaller pieces of EDL hardware. 

NASA says it is still early in the investigation. "Perseverance's forward Hazcam and Navcams will obtain images of the workspace (the surface directly in front of the rover) to see if there is any foreign object debris visible," NASA said. 

"Additional imaging and other diagnostic activities needed to further understand the nature of the debris are also being considered."

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