Visit The Red Planet With Motiv
Since touching down on Mars in February 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover has been busy – it has driven 1.8 miles (a record for the longest rover drive in a Martian day!), taken more than 100,000 images, and collected samples of Martian regolith that will be brought to Earth for further study. All of this to eventually put humans on Mars! And as the rover explores and analyzes the Martian terrain to find new discoveries, it is doing so with the help of robotics from Motiv.
Sample Gathering With Perseverance’s Robotic Arm
To help NASA learn more about the origin and type of Martian rocks Motiv was tasked with creating an arm capable of drilling into Martian rock, to collect samples for analysis on Earth. Using their collective expertise and an intensive engineering process, Motiv’s team created an arm suitable for the rover mission. Built with a force-torque sensor to enable the coring system to penetrate targeted surface areas, the arm uses weight-on-bit information to tell the coring system how much drilling force to apply – and in which direction – during sampling operations. After drilling, the coring system sends the collected rock samples to the rover’s internal encapsulation system. Part of the rover’s mission is to deposit these samples at a designated site for retrieval on future missions.
These capabilities that the arm contains are critical in the astrobiology part of the rover’s mission. Since its landing in February 2021, Perseverance has sealed six of its 43 sample tubes: four with rock cores, one with Martian atmosphere, and one with “witness” material to observe any contamination the rover might have brought from Earth. As the first mission to collect and cache Martian regolith, Perseverance is working to characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, while paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
Say Cheese For The Mastcam-Z
Another big piece of Motiv technology that Perseverance carries is in the Mastcam-Z cameras. These cameras, mounted to the rover, are designed to capture stereoscopic images at a range of focal lengths. The advanced imaging technology of Mastcam-Z provides spectacular views of the Martian landscape while offering clues to the planet’s mysterious past.
On September 12, 2021, the cameras captured 84 individual enhanced-color images of the South Séítah, a region of Mars’ Jezero Crater. In these photos, the Martian rocks and soil are clearly visible, along with a ridge nicknamed “Faillefeu” (after a medieval abbey in the French Alps). Beautiful and stark, these photos gave scientists a better idea of the types of terrain on Mars. While there are no current plans for the rover to visit this area, it is geologically interesting, reinforcing just how much more there is to learn about the Red Planet.
Exploring Mars has been the subject of aerospace engineering and scientific studies since the late 1940s. While the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is only part of NASA’s Mars exploration approach, it is making massive discoveries that are preparing for the human exploration of the Red Planet. And with innovative systems like Mastcam-Z and the Robotic Arm from Motiv, we’ll get there faster than ever.
Share in Motiv’s spirit of discovery by downloading the Mars Retro Poster and visit the Red Planet any time you like (no special robotics needed).