NASA Mars Rover Checks Itself For Debris Before Heading To Martian Enchanted Lake

enchanted lake
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover is preparing to make its way to a site that "enchanted" the space agency's science team when the rover first visited the site back in April of this year. But first, the team will be trying to figure out what two pieces of foreign object debris (FOD) found on one of the rover's coring bits might possibly be.

"Enchanted Lake" is located southwest of the rover's current location on the Jezero Crater delta on Mars. The team is currently assessing what two small string like pieces located on a coring bit could be. NASA says, however, that it does feel safe in moving forward with Perseverance traveling to the new location, due to the progress the team has already made in its FOD investigation.

debris rover
The debris was first located in an image of the rover's sample collection system taken on August 5, 2022. Since that time, the team has performed a battery of methodical diagnostic activities in order to better understand what the debris might be.

debris tweet
Part of the testing has included having the rover move, rotate, or vibrate components the team thinks could be home to FOD. During the testing, the team has been able to procure multiple sets of images of the components from different angles and in varying lighting conditions. The images were captured using several of Perseverance's cameras, which include its Mastercam-Z, Navcam, Hazcam, and Supercam. Another camera utilized was the Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations (WATSON), which is located on the rover's turret. The team also notes that all of the recent coring and bit-exchange activities were performed "nominally with no indication of interference from the FOD."

string debris
The debris was found following the storing of 12th sample of the mission. The two small pieces of debris were visible during the routine of investigating images of several sample collection system components. One was found on the coring bit (stored in the bit carousel) and another small hairline object on the drill chuck. The team says that it could have originated from the rover, or possibly came from Perseverance's entry, descent, and landing (EDL) system that was jettisoned at the beginning of the mission.

During Perseverance's first visit to Enchanted Lake, an image was taken that provided the science team with its first close-up glimpse of sedimentary rocks. These rocks were created by particles carried by the atmosphere and/or water, and then deposited in flat-lying layers which eventually turned into rock over a period of time. The hope is that sites such as Enchanted Lake will provide pertinent information that will aid the space agency in preparing for future manned visits to Mars.