NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission on July 17 to collect the first Mars rock samples for return to Earth on subsequent missions.
The rover will rely on the Sample Caching System in place of astronauts to collect the samples.
The system is comprised of 43 sample tubes and three robots: the rover's seven-foot-long robotic arm, a bit carousel that looks like a small flying saucer built into the front of the rover, and a 1.6-foot-long sample handling arm.
JPL's Adam Steltzner said the robots have to work with the precision of a Swiss watch; hile the typical Swiss chronometer has fewer than 400 parts, the Sample Caching System has more than 3,000.
Said Steltzner, "In terms of technology, it is the most complicated, most sophisticated mechanism that we have ever built, tested, and readied for spaceflight."
From Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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