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NASA Mars rover set to do something the team 'never imagined'


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See ya later, crumbly Mars rock sample.

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

Troubleshooting is a key skill for any team that works with robots on Mars, because the planet will mess with your robots. NASA's Perseverance rover team is working out how to fix a problem with some pebbles getting in the way of its rock sampling system. But first, the rover is making a surprise move by dumping the sample it's collected onto the ground.

Perseverance drilled and extracted the sample from a rock nicknamed Issole in late December, but wasn't able to complete the handoff of the sample tube from the robotic arm into the bit carousel, a component that passes the tube into the rover for processing. The culprit is a group of small pebbles, which need to be cleared out. It's ...


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