Testing Perseverance's Regolith Bit Here on Earth
Optimism, a full-scale replica of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover, tests a model of Perseverance's regolith bit in a pile of simulated regolith – broken rock and dust – at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
As with rock cores, Perseverance uses a drill on the end of its robotic arm to collect regolith samples. But to gather the loose material of Martian regolith the rover employs a different drill bit that looks like a spike with small holes on its end.
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.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
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