Landing a mission on Mars leaves a mark. It’s not just theon the surface. He dropped a piece of himself to the ground on Saturday, but it was all planned.
The rover arrived on Mars with a banner, a protective panel for its sampling system. Part of the rover’s job will be to pack rock and soil samples from Mars into small tubes..
NASA tweeted a GIF on Saturday showing the pan in place under the rover followed by the pan sitting on the ground. “The next thing is to check my sampling system now that its deck panel is off,” NASA said.
The rover used its robotic arm to obtain the images below. To give us a better idea of how the ejectable belly works, NASA also showed what it looked like the process during a practice drop when the rover was still on Earth.
The sampling system is a new feature for a NASA rover. The machine will collect samples, seal them in tubes and leave them on the surface. The equipment, including the drilling rig and 43 sample containers, is located under the belly of the rover.
Perseverance came to Mars in February. The tummy drop was part of the post-landing plan. “This exposes the workspace to the Martian atmosphere and leaves more room for sample handling operations within that workspace,” NASA said.
The belly will end up as one more artifact of human exploration on Mars. Good thing there are no fines for littering on the red planet.
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