In the 1960s, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was the first agency to put a spacecraft into orbit.
Now that mission is well under way, and the spacecraft has helped shape how we think about spaceflight.
It’s also a prime target for space debris.
“If we have an impactor, there is going to be debris that comes from that,” said Scott Bolton, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
“So what we’ve seen is that when we look at a satellite, we’re not looking at it as a spacecraft, we look like a space debris.”
For instance, if a lander lands on a rocky outcrop, it’s likely to get caught in rocks, sand and debris that’s thrown up by the terrain.
“There’s a lot of debris that gets thrown up, and we want to find it,” Bolton said.
“The same with landers.”
The lander’s job is to collect samples that would be sent to a laboratory to test the material’s properties, including whether it’s a soil, rock or metal.
This is called a microscopic investigation, and it’s the job of the lander to sample the soil and rock in the vicinity of the rover.
“This is really the key thing: The landers are looking at what we’re looking at, and they’re looking for a small sample, and a lot less than that,” Bolton added.
But when the rover lands, it doesn’t necessarily have all the samples it needs.
“You’ve got a lot more of a chance of losing some,” Bolton noted.
The landering mission’s primary mission is to identify, collect and analyze samples from the surface of Mars.
“When you get to the Martian surface, there’s a whole range of things you can do.
There’s some places you can look for chemicals, you can find metals, you have an abundance of minerals, you’ve got water,” Bolton explained.
“But the important thing is to know where you’re looking and how you’re going to get there.
And that’s where the microscopes come in.”
A microscopist’s job isn’t to collect the samples; the microsolvents that make up the sample are collected and analyzed.
Microsolvent samples are collected from rock and soil samples.
The microsolvent that’s collected from a rock or soil sample is labeled with a name and is then sent to the lab.
If the samples are mineral-rich, it will be sent back to the rover, where it can be analyzed.
If there’s no mineral, it goes to the ocean.
Microspheres are smaller rocks, but they have the same chemistry.
They have a mixture of water, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other chemicals.
These are collected in a bag and sent to an analytical lab.
Once they are analyzed, the scientists can determine the composition of the sample.
They then use these to identify the chemical elements in the rock and determine the chemistry of the rock.
If it is a mineral-bearing sample, it is sent back into orbit and analyzed again.
This analysis is done using a variety of instruments that can sample the sample with varying degrees of accuracy.
If a sample has a chemical signature that is different from the typical rock, the team will have to find the missing element in order to determine whether it has the right composition to be sent into orbit to sample it.
If that doesn’t work, they’ll either have to collect more samples from a different location or, in the case of some rocks, they may have to go back to Mars.
And if the sample is too thin to sample from, the rover will send it back to Earth and then send it to another laboratory, where the scientists will analyze it again.
“We’ve had to do this for about three years and that’s been a really challenging job,” Bolton continued.
“And we’ve learned a lot, but it’s just really difficult to do.”
So how do you find the samples?
The microsphere analysis that’s done by the landers is a relatively simple process.
They can sample rocks from a variety.
They’ll use rocks from different locations.
They may also use rocks that are relatively thin or are very thick.
They will do the analysis on rock samples that are either exposed to the sun or are exposed to oxygen.
And the microspheres in these samples are essentially a collection of tiny, very thin, very light minerals that are called micrometeorites.
These micrometeors are called meteorites because they’re found in the upper layers of the Earth.
They come from the Sun, where they’re in the atmosphere and are often blasted off by the sun into space.
Some of these are in very small meteorites, like the tiny micrometer sized meteorite called the Moon Crater, which is just over a kilometer across.
And then, of course, there are the bigger meteorites that are much larger, like what’s called a meteorite