UNITED STATES: NASA is confident that the tubes or caches of valuable Mars samples will not be disturbed on the Red Planet by dust, wind, or darkness.
NASA’s Perseverance rover has been dropping material caches in the shape of lightsabers on the surface of Mars this month in preparation for a subsequent sample return mission.
Perseverance collects two samples at each location and carries one set with it. In the 2030s, two fetch helicopters will transport the backup surface tubes to the return rocket if the rover cannot carry the samples to a waiting spacecraft.
Earth-based researchers will be able to examine the tubed samples for signs of life thanks to the epic NASA-European collaboration mission.
However, given that the fetch mission is not expected to land until the 2030s, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory officials stated on Twitter that they had received public concerns regarding the possibility of the tubes being damaged by wind or dust or the caches becoming challenging to retrieve.
The Red Planet experiences gentle wind gusts, in contrast to the fictional, powerful storm shown at the beginning of “The Martian” (2015).
The wind on Mars mainly picks up refined sand grains because of its thin atmosphere, which is only one hundredth the pressure of Earth at sea level.
Winds do not pose a threat to nuclear-powered missions like Perseverance. According to the account, the NASA Curiosity rover, for instance, is still operating on Mars after 10 years with only a thin layer of dust covering the machinery.
However, dust accumulation on solar panels can pose a long-term threat to exploration in the absence of a good wind gust, just like it did on NASA’s recently concluded InSight Mars lander mission.
In any event, for tubes that go underground on a superficial level, NASA expects they will be “easy to spot” in light of the data gathered from InSight.
Even though the lander had been on the Red Planet’s surface for four Earth years, the onboard cameras could still identify cables from InSight.
The backup mission is anticipated to arrive on Mars in 2031, or nine years from now.
There are several chances to send a mission to Mars before 2040, assuming that funding for the sample return mission holds and technology development continues as planned. Launch opportunities between Earth and Mars occur roughly every two years.