This week, a tool on the rover’s 7-foot-long robotic arm will abrade the surface of a rock nicknamed «Rochette,» allowing scientists to look inside and determine whether they want to capture a sample with the rover’s coring bit. Slightly thicker than a pencil, the sample would be sealed in one of the 42 remaining titanium tubes aboard the rover. 6 from a rock that ultimately proved too crumbly, breaking into powder and fragments of material too small to be retained in the sample tube before it was sealed and stored within the rover. Perseverance has since trucked 1,493 feet to a ridge nicknamed «Citadelle» – French for «castle,» a reference to how this craggy spot overlooks Jezero Crater’s floor.
Once a sample is confirmed, they will command Perseverance to seal the tube. «By returning samples to Earth, we hope to answer a number of scientific questions, including the composition of Mars’ atmosphere,» said Ken Farley, Perseverance’s project scientist at Caltech in Pasadena, California. While atop Citadelle, Perseverance will use its subsurface radar, called RIMFAX – short for Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment – to peer at rock layers below it.
The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith . JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.