NASA's Perseverance Rover completes two years on the Red Planet
NASA's Perseverance Rover successfully completed two years on Mars on February 18. Since its landing in 2021, the six-wheeled, nuclear-powered rover has been collecting Martian samples and has been examining the geological features of the Red Planet. The rover has many accomplishments to its credit, one of which is the construction of the sample depot, the first of its kind built in another world.
Why does this story matter?
- The Perseverance Rover, nicknamed Percy, along with the Ingenuity helicopter, landed at the Jezero Crater on Mars in 2021.
- The rover is currently on its extended mission. It recently completed its primary mission, which lasted one Mars year, which is about 687 Earth days.
- Among its milestones, the rover set a new record for the longest drive on a Martian day in 2021.
Percy has snapped more than 1,66,000 images
The rover has seven science instruments, all of which have revealed crucial insights. For instance, Percy has snapped more than 1,66,000 images. The microphone on its SuperCam instrument has made 662 audio recordings. To recall, the same instrument recorded the sound of the "Martian dust devil." Further, Percy's ground-penetrating radar instrument, designed to study underground rock layers, has performed 6,76,828 soundings to date.
The weather data recorded by the rover tallies 15,769.1 hours
That's not all. Its MOXIE technology (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) has "produced 92.11 grams of oxygen, and the Gas Dust Removal Tool (gDRT) has puffed 62 times to clear residual dust and particles from rock-abrading activities." In addition, the duration of weather data recorded by the MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) instrument tallies 15,769.1 hours.
The rover's next science campaign is called 'Upper Fan'
"Anniversaries are a time of reflection and celebration, and the Perseverance team is doing a lot of both," said Ken Farley, Perseverance's project scientist. "Perseverance has inspected and performed data collection on hundreds of intriguing geologic features, collected 15 rock cores, and created the first sample depot on another world." The Rover commenced its next science campaign, known as 'Upper Fan,' on February 15.
Perseverance has collected 18 samples so far
Along with rock cores, Perseverance has collected two regolith samples and one atmospheric sample, bringing up the count to 18. The rover also carries five "witness tubes," which will help the team determine if any sealed sample tubes might contain contaminants from Earth.
The sample depot is a backup for the MSR campaign
NASA, along with ESA, intends on bringing Martian samples back to Earth via the Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign for in-depth analysis, and the sample depot created by the rover serves as a backup. Percy has been picking samples on Mars in duplicates. While one set is safely stashed away in the rover's belly, the other was used to create the sample depot.