NASA’s 1st Attempt To Collect Mars Samples With Perseverance Rover Comes Up Empty

The NASA Persevance Rover

NASA’s 1st Attempt To Collect Mars Samples With Perseverance Rover Comes Up Empty:

  • In what is no doubt a disappointing turn of events for NASA, the Perseverance Rover failed to collect a sample from the surface of Mars, one of its two missions (the other being to search for past signs of life on the planet). While the Rover did successfully drill a hole to collect the sample, no Red Planet sediment was collected into its tube.
  • This result, while far from ideal, is not the end of the world for its team, as the Rover carries 43 tubes and aims to fill at least 20. During testing, this scenario never came up, according to the Rover’s official Twitter account, leading the team to suspect that the issue lies not with the hardware, but instead with the specific rock that Perseverance drilled into.
  • The team at NASA will be analyzing the data sent by Perseverance in order to figure out what caused the tube to be empty, which will include photos of the borehole.
The borehole drilled by the Perseverance Rover, taken on August 6, 2021.

The cybersecurity implications associated with the Perseverance Rover are not specifically linked to its failure to collect a sediment sample, but instead with the information being beamed between it and its team at the ground station. I personally am not sure what information they might need to send back to the machine other than potential instructions for Perseverance to follow, but if the integrity of this information is not upheld and the information is tampered with, the instructions could be altered, causing the Rover to act in a way that could jeopardize the mission (i.e. wasting the limited number of test tubes it carries), which seems like something activists or thrill-seekers could try to do. Additionally, the specifications of the Rover itself could be revealed via shortcomings in confidentiality, which might be of interest to nation states.

In the scenario that I have presented, I would say that critical data (namely the sample results) would be the most impacted given that exploitation could completely jeopardize the mission by making samples unable to be gathered or unusable, or cause damage to the Rover itself.

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