Arthur Conan Doyle's detective will detect sand-grain-sized clues in Martian rocks onboard NASA's Perseverance rover

SHERLOC’s complete name is Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals.

FP Trending May 29, 2020 13:16:31 IST
Arthur Conan Doyle's detective will detect sand-grain-sized clues in Martian rocks onboard NASA's Perseverance rover

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named an instrument on the end of the rover's robotic arm after Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed creation Sherlock Holmes. The device will hunt for sand-grain-sized clues in Martian rocks. The US space agency’s SHERLOC will work in sync with WATSON, a camera that will take close-up pictures of rock textures.

The Perseverance rover mission is aimed at searching for signs of ancient microbial life. “It's the first leg of the first round trip from Earth to Mars and back. We're hoping in the 2030s that we will be bringing those samples back here to Earth,” reported BBC quoting Lori Glaze, director of the agency's planetary science division.

Arthur Conan Doyles detective will detect sandgrainsized clues in Martian rocks onboard NASAs Perseverance rover

As seen in this artist's concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

SHERLOC was developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, while WATSON was built at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.

“For the most promising rocks, the Perseverance team will command the rover to take half-inch-wide core samples, store and seal them in metal tubes, and deposit them on the surface of Mars so that a future mission can return them to Earth for more detailed study,” said the agency.

SHERLOC’s complete name is Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals. Raman in its name refers to Raman spectroscopy, a technique named after CV Raman, an Indian physicist who discovered the light-scattering effect in the 1920s.

Arthur Conan Doyles detective will detect sandgrainsized clues in Martian rocks onboard NASAs Perseverance rover

An engineering model of SHERLOC, one the instruments onboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover. Located on the end of the rover's robotic arm, SHERLOC will help determine which samples to take so that they can be sealed in metal tubes and left on the Martian surface for a future return to Earth. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Using Raman’s scattering effect, “scientists can identify different molecules based on the distinctive spectral "fingerprint" visible in their emitted light.”

The device is equipped with an ultraviolet laser that will allow the team to classify organics and minerals present in a rock on the Red planet.

The NASA earlier this month announced that started putting the Mars-bound rover and other components into the configuration that will ride on top of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.  

The mission will be launched between 17 July and 5 August and its duration will be around 687 Earth days.

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