A grain of sand blocks the Martian robot Perseverance


Grains of sand and pebbles seized the Perseverance robot on Mars. NASA is attempting a remote cleanup.

The Perseverance robot has been on Mars since February 2021.


The Perseverance robot continues to do its job on the planet Mars. In particular, collect soil samples by drilling. But during its sixth collection, (the seventh attempt in fact, but the first failed) on December 29, a grain of sand slipped into the process. When extracting the core sample from the drill, there was abnormal resistance.

The robot then immediately applied the procedure provided in the event of a problem: cease all activity and call the house for help, NASA reports. As Mars and Earth are out of sync these times, the latency of data transfers is longer than usual. Engineers requested additional data and images to try to figure out where the problem was coming from, but it took a week to reach them.

Once these were investigated, NASA returned a command to extract the drill bit and sample-filled tube from the drill bit carousel and detach the robotic arm from said drill bit carousel. Images were taken during these operations. And one of them, below, helped locate and identify the problem.

Pebbles fell into the robot carousel

Pebbles fell into the robot carousel


We can clearly see some debris the size of pebbles in the carousel of Perseverance. “The team is convinced that these are fragments of the cored rock that fell out of the sample tube when removing the core bit, and that they prevented the bit from sitting down completely. in the drill bit carousel, ”writes NASA.

Can the robot continue its mission like this or do you have to remove them first before continuing? Engineers say they want to take their time to think about it and clean up Perseverance, “an engineering challenge when you’re hundreds of millions of miles away (Mars is currently 215 million miles from Earth)” . But NASA assures it, it will get there and the robot will be able to continue its mission on Mars, the planet on which it landed in February 2021.


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