CacheCam Image of Perseverance's 14th Sample of Martian Rock
Perseverance's Sampling and Caching System Camera, or CacheCam, captured this time-lapse series of images of the rover's 14th rock-core sample. Taken over four Martian days (or sols) – on Sols 595, 599, 601, and 604 of the mission (Oct. 22, Oct. 26, Oct. 28, and Oct. 31, 2022) – they document the results of the mission's use of the rover's Bore Sweep Tool to remove dust from the tube. Small dust grains can be seen moving around the rim of the sample tube. The tool is designed to clean the inner surface near the tube's opening and also move the collected rock sample further down into the tube. Because the CacheCam's depth of field is plus or minus 5 millimeters, the rock sample, which is farther down in the tube, is not in focus in these images. The pixel scale in this image is approximately 13 microns per pixel. The images were acquired on Oct. 5. When the rover attempted to insert a seal into the open end of the tube, the seal did not release as expected from its dispenser.
The bright gold-colored ring in the foreground is the bearing race, an asymmetrical flange that assists in shearing off a sample once the coring drill has bored into a rock. The sample collection tube's serial number, "184," can be seen in the 2 o'clock position on the bearing race. About the size and shape of a standard lab test tube, these tubes are designed to contain representative samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. 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 (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.
For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020