Mars: Perseverance explores Yuri’s Passage. Updates on Mars sample return

Qualified samples continue to be explored and searched on the surface of Mars by the rover, which has recently begun to do so A closer look at a very promising area of ​​optical specimen research to return to Earth. And precisely in this regard, NASA has published a dossier New video intended to show cHow will the Mars sample return retrieval mission be conducted?.

Let’s start with the latest movements affecting the Jezero crater region, where the persistent rover continues to move.


We’re still near the ancient river delta, an area full of potential targets, which this time sees special interest in Yuri’s Passage. That’s the name given to the area near the base of the formation, and in fact NASA has been eager to explore the area for several months already, because during an initial pass, it identified a rock identical to the one that Perseverance drilled to collect a sample last July.

Why all this interest? It is very attractive to scientists because the area of ​​rock (shown in the headland) is made up of sandstone, which was formed over thousands of years from fine grains that were moved by water before settling, compressing, and shaping the stone. Here are the words of Katie Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist for Perseverance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

We often prioritize the study of fine-grained sedimentary rocks like this one in our search for organic matter and potential biological signatures. What is particularly interesting about the Ure Pass outcrop is that it is laterally equivalent to the ‘Hogwallow Flats’, where we found fine-grained sedimentary rock. This means that the rock bed is about the same height as Hogwallow and has a large, traceable footprint visible on the surface.

Searching for biosignatures within Jezero Crater is one of Perseverance’s four science goals. Right now, there are a total of 14 rock samples protected inside the rover, and after identifying the best rock at Yori Pass where to drill, Perseverance will move southeast for 227 metres, until it reaches a huge ripple of sand midway. small dune field. The spike, called Observation Mountain, will be where the probe collects its first samples of regolith, or crushed rock mixed with dust.

We’ve said it many times and we remember it again: Perseverance samples are essential to the first step of the Mars Sample Return campaign, the joint NASA-ESA (ESA) mission that began since launch for all intents and purposes. The rover cached its first drilled rock in September 2021.

Mars model return, new mission details

On the occasion of the arrival of Yori Pass and the developments currently underway, NASA wanted to publish new content on its YouTube channel precisely related to the sample recovery mission. According to the video, NASA will rely on Sample return spacecraft which he has mentioned repeatedly in the past.

The mission to return a Mars sample from Earth could start in 2028 and finish returning in 2032, but there is already a risk that China will get there first. As for the NASA project, it will be very complex and will require sending 3 separate vehicles to complete the process, which is a rover, a lander and an ascent vehicle called the Mars Ascent Vehicle, which will include an integrated launch pad for the restart from Mars. but this is not all, There is also talk of new drones drawn from the Creativity experimentas we shall see better later.

The development is currently in progress and is being taken care of by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which uses the most innovative aeronautical means in its laboratories (such as Perseverance and Creativity). But for more details on the Mars sample return mission, we’ve created a special message that we invite you to read.

The operation will be the first of its kind and will allow scientists for the first time to hold in their hands some rocks extracted from another planet, which is potentially very interesting in terms of geological study and search for signs of vital activity, present or past. In fact, we already have material from the Red Planet at our disposal, since Martian meteorites have fallen to Earth many times in history, but these rocks have spent millions or even billions of years in space and have been completely changed by time and radiation. Meteorites from Mars also become instantly polluted when they hit our planet, making it difficult to look for signs of microorganisms on the Red Planet.

This is the video uploaded by NASA recently, with the planned sequence for the Mars sample return mission.

Ingenuity and looking to the future

Ingenuity is still in excellent health, but the Martian winter has forced NASA to keep the Martian helicopter stationary to extend its life and no new flights have been recorded since the last day on September 24, flight number 33. But in recent days The future of this technology was also discussedso profitable that NASA is already working on new solutions of this kind for future space exploration flights.

The success of the creation led to NASA’s decision to port Two Ingenuity class helicopters on the Mars sample recovery landerwhich, as we saw above, is expected to be dispatched near the end of this decade.

Equipped with wheels for feet and a small manipulator arm with a two-finger handle, these sample retrieval helicopters will transport valuable test tubes, as needed, from a sample warehouse to the Mars Ascent Vehicle for launch back to Earth. Moreover The most capable Mars helicopter with the capacity to carry nearly 5 kg science payloads In early design and concept stages.

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