Skip to main content

The Sampling and Caching Subsystem (SCS) for the Scientific Exploration of Jezero Crater by the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

Abstract

The Mars 2020 mission seeks to conduct a new scientific exploration on the surface of Mars. The Perseverance Rover will be sent to the surface of the Jezero Crater region to study its habitability, search for biosignatures of past life, acquire and cache samples for potential return, and prepare for possible human missions. To enable these objectives, an innovative Sampling and Caching Subsystem (SCS) has been developed and tested to allow the Perseverance Rover to acquire and cache rock core and regolith samples, prepare abraded rock surfaces, and support proximity science instruments.

The SCS consists of the Robotic Arm (RA), the Turret and Corer, and the Adaptive Caching Assembly (ACA). These elements reside and interact both inside and outside of the Perseverance Rover to enable surface interactions, sample transfer, and caching. The main body of the Turret consists of the Coring Drill (Corer) with a Launch Abrading Bit initially installed prior to launch. Mounted to the Turret main structure are two proximity science instruments, SHERLOC and PIXL, as well as the Gas Dust Removal Tool (gDRT) and the Facility Contact Sensor (FCS). These work together with the RA to provide the sample acquisition, abraded surface preparation, and proximity science functions. The ACA is a network of assemblies largely inside the front belly of the Rover, which combine to perform the sample handling and caching functions of the mission. The ACA primarily consists of the Bit Carousel, the Sample Handling Assembly (SHA), End Effector (EE), Sample Tubes and their Sample Tube Storage Assembly (STSA), Seals and their Dispenser, Volume, and Tube Assembly (DVT), the Sealing Station, the Vision Station, the Cover Parking Lot, and additional supporting hardware. These components attach to the Caching Component Mounting Deck (CCMD) that is integrated with the Rover interior. This work describes these major elements of the SCS, with an emphasis on the functionality required to perform the set of tasks and interactions required by the subsystem. Key considerations of contamination control and biological cleanliness throughout the development of these hardware elements are also discussed.

Additionally, aspects of testing and validating the functionality of the SCS are described. Early prototypes and tests matured the designs over several years and eventually led to the flight hardware and integrated testing in both Earth ambient and Mars-like environments. Multiple unique testbed venues were developed and used to enable testing from low-level mechanism operation through end-to-end sampling and caching interactions with the full subsystem and flight software. Various accomplishments from these testing efforts are highlighted. These past and ongoing tests support the successful preparations of the SCS on its pathway to operations on Mars.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18
Fig. 19
Fig. 20
Fig. 21
Fig. 22
Fig. 23
Fig. 24
Fig. 25
Fig. 26
Fig. 27
Fig. 28
Fig. 29
Fig. 30
Fig. 31
Fig. 32
Fig. 33
Fig. 34
Fig. 35
Fig. 36
Fig. 37
Fig. 38
Fig. 39
Fig. 40
Fig. 41
Fig. 42
Fig. 43
Fig. 44
Fig. 45
Fig. 46
Fig. 47
Fig. 48
Fig. 49

Data availability

Not applicable.

Code availability

Not applicable.

References

  • A. Allwood et al., PIXL: Planetary instrument for X-ray lithochemistry. Space Sci. Rev. (2020, this journal). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00767-7

  • R.C. Anderson et al., Collecting samples in Gale Crater, Mars; an overview of the Mars Science Laboratory sample acquisition, sample processing and handling system. Space Sci. Rev. 170, 57–75 (2012)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • A. Barletta, Design and development of a robust chuck mechanism for the Mars2020 Coring Drill, in Proceedings of the 45th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, NASA/CP-20205009766, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 2020 (2020). https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20205009766

    Google Scholar 

  • R. Bhatia et al., Perseverance’s Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) investigation. Space Sci. Rev. (2020, this journal)

  • P. Boeder, C. Soares, Mars 2020: Mission, science objectives and build, in Proc. SPIE, Systems Contamination: Prediction, Control, and Performance, vol. 11489 (2020), p. 1148903. https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2569650

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • K. Chrystal, Percussion mechanism for the Mars2020 coring drill, in Proceedings of the 45th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, NASA/CP-20205009766, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 2020 (2020). https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20205009766

    Google Scholar 

  • C.I. Fassett, J.W. Head, Fluvial sedimentary deposits on Mars: Ancient deltas in a crater lake in the Nili Fossae region. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32 (2005). Available at: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2005GL023456

  • J. Grimes-York, S. O’Brien, Sealing station mechanisms for the Mars 2020 rover’s sample caching subsystem, in Proceedings of the 45th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, NASA/CP-20205009766, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 2020 (2020). https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20205009766

    Google Scholar 

  • N. Holmberg, R. Faust, H.M. Holt, Viking ’75 Spacecraft and Test Summary, Volume I - Lander Design (1980). NASA Reference Publication 1027. Available at: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19810001592

    Google Scholar 

  • E. Jens et al., Precision cleaning samples for science analysis using a gas-based dust removal tool, in Proceedings of the 2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 2017 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  • E. Jens et al., Design, development and qualification of a gas-based dust removal tool for Mars exploration missions, in Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 2018 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  • I. Mikellides, N. Chen, S. Liao, E. Droz, Z. Strimbu, M. Stricker, F. Chen, G. Babu Malli Mohan, M. Anderson, J. Mennella, D. Bernard, A. Steltzner, Experiments in particle resuspension and transport for the assessment of terrestrial-borne biological contamination of the samples on the Mars 2020 mission. Planet. Space Sci. 181, 104793 (2020)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • M. Silverman, J. Lin, Mars 2020 rover adaptive caching assembly: Caching martian samples for potential Earth return, in Proceedings of the 45th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, NASA/CP-20205009766, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 2020 (2020). https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20205009766

    Google Scholar 

  • T. Szwarc, J. Parker, J. Kreuser, STIG: A two-speed transmission aboard the Mars2020 coring drill, in Proceedings of the 45th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, NASA/CP-20205009766, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 2020 (2020). https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20205009766m

    Google Scholar 

  • L. White et al., Organic and inorganic contamination control approaches for return sample investigation on Mars 2020, in Proceedings of the 2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 2017 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all of the many people who have played a significant role in the success of the SCS. Just some of these groups and individuals include the following: Engineers Julie Townsend, Diana Trujillo, Sarah Sherman, Rebecca Perkins, Will Green, Nick Haddad, Pavlina Karafillis, David Newill-Smith, Erich Brandeau, Ken Glazebrook, Antonia Warner, Kayla Andersen, Keith Gildea, Grayson Adams, Jesse Grimes-York, Corrine Weyrauch, Sean O’Brien, Eric Kulczycki, Brad Kobeissi, Lauren Chu, Kyle Chrystal, Tim Szwarc, Anthony Barletta, Mieszko Salamon, Luke Kelm, Cambria Logan, Matin Seadat-Beheshti, Matt Gentile, Jeff Seiden, James Burdick, Kristo Kriechbaum, Brian Franz, Jacqueline Sly, Sawyer Brooks, Kyle Edelberg, Dan Levine, Fernando Mier-Hicks, Ryan McCormick, Chris Porter, Greg Peters, Rachel Kronyak, Marcello Gori, Suzie Kellogg, Matt Shekels, Ej Carpenter, Brooklin Cohen, John Mayo, Jake Chesin, Doug Klein, Esteben Rodriguez. Integration and test leads Eric Aguilar, Scott Nowak, Chad Truitt, Sivan Kenig, Dave Berdahl, David Levine, Eric Roberts, Jeff Megivern, Michael Lashore, Amila Cooray, Kelly Palm, Kar Kit Lai. Project science leads Ken Farley, Ken Williford, Katie Stack-Morgan. Analysts Matt Orzewalla, Chris Landry, David Parsons, Kurt Knutson, Greg Mathy, Rachel Backes. Cabling leads Marc Angelino and Luis Aguila. Lead designers Eric Kurzweil, Darren Tidwell, Ed Dorantes. Lead technicians Lack Clonts, Tom Tourigny, and the entire SCS technicians team. Quality Assurance (QA) leads Erin Castello, Orlando Guzman, Andrew Meyer, and the whole SCS QA team. Chief engineers Rich Rainen and Mo Abid. Management leads John McNamee, Matt Wallace, Jeff Srinivasan, Ray Baker, Gun-Shing Chen, Lori Shiraishi. Jackie Lyra, Barry Nakazono, and the gDRT team. Moogega Stricker, Cynthia Ly, Doug Bernard, and the Planetary Protection team. Paul Boeder, Thora Maltais, Ian Clark and the Contamination Control team. Oren Sheinman at GSFC and the DBA team. Philip Morrison, Robert Wei, and the team at Honeybee Robotics. Brett Lindenfeld, Michael Hagman, Brendan Mangano, and the team at Motiv Space Systems. Carl Buck, Andrew Bertolucci, Eric Geller, and the team at Maxar.

Additionally, thank you to everyone who we have not been able to mention here but have been a tremendous part of the SCS through its formulation, design, analysis, development, assembly, integration, testing, and preparations for operations. This includes all of the technicians, designers, engineers, facilities support personnel, manufacturing engineers, materials experts, inspection personnel, and many others who have been a part of the successful implementation of the SCS.

Funding

This effort was carried out by named co-authors at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

All named co-authors provided a significant intellectual contribution to the design, development, and/or testing of the Sampling and Caching Subsystem.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert C. Moeller.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest/Competing interests

Not applicable.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

The Mars 2020 Mission

Edited by Kenneth A. Farley, Kenneth H. Williford and Kathryn M. Stack

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Moeller, R.C., Jandura, L., Rosette, K. et al. The Sampling and Caching Subsystem (SCS) for the Scientific Exploration of Jezero Crater by the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover. Space Sci Rev 217, 5 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00783-7

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00783-7

Keywords

  • Mars 2020
  • Perseverance
  • Rover
  • Jezero Crater
  • Sampling
  • Caching
  • Sample acquisition
  • Sample handling
  • Core
  • Abrasion
  • Regolith
  • SCS